This week the students in Pamela Nielsen's fifth grade class will take their final strolls down the hall as students at . Thanks to their efforts one of the school's courtyards has been transformed into a garden that future Gators will be able to enjoy for years to come.
Principal Lynn Coco said the garden was a combined effort with the students and community volunteers. "They came in and they helped with the help of the crew," Coco said of the students. "They planted everything so it was really a nice experience for them."
Not only does the garden improve the look of the courtyard but Coco said it provides educational opportunities as well. "It gives the students a leadership role and responsibility and taking ownership," she said. "The beauty of it is the students were really passionate about it. When you have students that are really involved and have an idea that's their own, they really take off with it."
For Nielsen, the project is the culmination of two years of work she started with the students when they were fourth graders before moving up to fifth grade with them. She won't be following them to Middle School South but thanks to their efforts it is a class she will not soon forget.
Not only will she not forget them, but she is glad the younger students and future classes will remember their efforts. "We wanted to attract birds and pollinators and insects to the courtyards so that younger grades would have some way to experience that and have some knowledge." She said the garden will be an outdoor habitat.
The students said it was a lot of work not only finding out what types of trees bushes should be put in the garden, but also helping to plant them during the process.
Working on the garden was inspired at least in part by a book the students have been reading in class. They said the story "Mr. Lincoln's Way" by Leah Polacco made them want to do the project for their school as a way to recreate the work of the characters.
Coco said the garden is still a work in progress with future classes having the opportunity to add their own touches to the space. This summer a local Eagle Scout candidate will also spend time adding butterfly bushes and other touches to make it more visually pleasing.
With Greenville set to celebrate 10 years of serving the community Coco Said she hopes the garden can be part of next year's events. She said she hopes to see a time capsule put together as part of an official dedication ceremony in the spring. "It's really rewarding to see students who were so happy and really proud of everything," she said. "The goal is hopefully other classes will want to participate in it."
Even in its infancy the garden has improved one spot in the school but Coco said she looks forward to see what it looks like in the future. "This is a project that can be ongoing and sustain a lot of years," she said. "Most importantly it will be a use of space in our school that I know Ms. Nielsen wants to use as an outdoor classroom."