This week’s school spotlight is Washington High School in KCK. Partnering with Schoolyard Gardens since 2015, Washington High School’s Wildcat Outdoor Learning Lab and Community Garden turned an old tennis court into an outdoor classroom where students are encouraged to study or just take a break and enjoy nature.
Science teacher Karen Rogers leads the gardening efforts along with help from other teachers. Over the years they have added a greenhouse, compost bins, picnic tables and a mini orchard to their Wildcat Outdoor Learning Lab.
“I get requests all the time from both teachers and student to garden. The latest request is that there are a few teachers that are interested in starting a pollinator garden next spring.”
Last fall community partners from Ernst & Young’s College Mentoring for Access and Persistence program teamed up with garden club students to mulch fruit trees, and rebuild garden beds.
I asked Karen why she thinks gardens at schools are important. Her response, “The gardens make the community at Washington High School stronger. The outdoor classroom is a great excuse for teachers and students to put down their iPads and go outside.” Her next plan is to start inviting student’s families so that they too can help with watering and enjoy the harvest.
She added that something she noticed in herself is that time in the garden helps release any stress she may have from the day. Karen says, “gardening brings down my vinegar levels.”
One of Karen’s favorite memories from the garden is when her students tried their first ripe peach from the orchard. Watching her student’s delight was awesome to witness and validated the extra time she devotes to taking care of the gardens.
Thanks Karen and everyone at Washington High School for taking the time to make Washington’s gardens a beautiful open classroom oasis! Keep up the great work.
If you would like your school’s garden spotlighted, contact your Schoolyard Garden coordinator.