Marshfield Middle School Students have an extra place to hang out and learn with the completion of the Literacy Garden.
Located near the front entrance to the school, the garden will provide outdoor learning opportunities beginning this fall for a range of subjects – art students could practice drawing, and agriculture students could tend the plants, for example – as well as a study hall area for students who earn it.
“After school, it will be a place for kids to be able to congregate, sit and talk, wait for rides,” said Middle School principal Mike Nicksic. Outside of school hours, the community is welcome to walk through and use the space.
Two classrooms can use the garden at a time, one in the “amphitheater” and another by the picnic tables at the other end. Although WiFi is available for classroom iPad use, students who have completed their homework must have a book in hand when using the Literacy Garden for study hall.
“I’m excited to have it be another place where we can hold class and just get outside,” said Rachel Krentz, science teacher.
Work on the garden began at the end of May with sod removal, followed by the placement of the walkway by Fischer’s Landscaping & Design. Many teachers and employees in the district donated their time toward the project, spreading mulch, planting perennials, and pouring concrete.
Metal benches and an arch were made by high school metal tech students along with two wooden benches by the ACE academy. Perennials, decorative stones, pots donated from Farm Technology Days by Weber’s farm, a birdhouse, Clyde Wynia art, a large rock uncovered in a district employee’s yard, a metal book sculpture encouraging reading, and automatic accent lights add the finishing touches to the project.
“That was probably the most intensive work for me, putting the lights in,” recalled Nicksic.
The garden also includes a red maple in memory of Nikki Shutz, a student who was tragically killed in 1998 while traveling to basketball practice.
Fundraising, undertaken with help from Leadership Marshfield, was sufficient to cover costs of maintenance for a few years, some of which will be done by the students themselves as a hands-on learning opportunity. As part of the Pathway program, a group of students will build a podium for the amphitheater.
There are a few aspects of the garden yet to be completed, such as installing the door that will act as the entrance to the garden from the school. Students will re-enter the building through the main entrance. Once these are completed, there will be a ribbon cutting sometime in early fall.
Visit the Marshfield Middle School Literacy Garden Facebook page for a look at the progress of the project this past summer.