It took years of preparation and it will take time to bloom, but the JC Parks Elementary School Bird and Butterfly Garden was officially opened on June 13. Located at the front of the school, the garden was dedicated to Deanna Wheeler, the school scientist. teacher who helped make Parks a forerunner in environmentally-focused curriculum.
“Well, what a great day,” Principal Gregory Miller said in his welcoming remarks at the ceremony. “I think I could hear birds chirping and maybe even see some of our butterflies flying.”
While many of the parks green features – the upland forest, the wetlands – were created and nurtured through the sweat of staff and students, the Bird and Butterfly Garden was designed and planted with the help from The Outdoor Living Company, Landscaping and Landscaping. band.
Miller credited Wheeler not only for creating green spaces at school, but also for generating enthusiasm for them among staff and students.
“I have to make a correction,” Wheeler said. “It’s not due to my efforts, it’s due to everyone’s efforts here. We didn’t want it to be a monoculture where only one thing was growing, which was crabgrass. We wanted to create eco-friendly and fun outdoor classroom for everyone. »
Wheeler was quick to share credit with others, including Ronda Goldman, a fifth-grade teacher and Charles County Garden Club member who visited Parks weekly more than 13 years ago to begin figuring out how Parks could better implement more green features. There have been several grants from sources such as Lowe’s, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Charles County Arts Alliance and others. More than 17 community groups joined staff, students and their families to help with planning and planting. “They planted our upland forest and 5,000 plants in our wetlands and rain garden,” Wheeler said. Staff from the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center lent their expertise, and Vicki Marckel, an art teacher at Henry E. Lackey High School, painted murals across the front of the school illustrating how the health of the environment in southern Maryland affects remote locations such as the North Pole.
The Bird and Butterfly Garden was developed when virtual learning was implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19. “This project started a few years ago during online learning because of COVID,” Wheeler told students who attended the ceremony. “We were trying to figure out what to do with all of you.” More than 300 Parks students studied butterflies and their life cycles, built habitats and bird feeders, and took a virtual field trip to Nanjemoy Creek Center. It’s been a long journey, but it’s almost over,” Wheeler said.
The garden was dedicated to Wheeler in recognition of the contributions she made to the school. The garden will be known as Wheeler’s Winged Wonderland. “Our bird and butterfly garden is just beginning to take shape,” Miller said. “In the months and years to come, it’s going to be something quite spectacular.”
Wheeler agreed. “It will be absolutely stunning when it starts to bloom and we see the swirls,” she said. “I look forward to many adventures with birds and butterflies.”
Miller said he hopes fifth graders who are on their way to sixth grade – many of whom attend nearby Matthew Henson High School – will continue to monitor the garden’s progress in years to come. “Like you, this garden has great potential,” Miller said. “And like you, it will be something that makes a positive difference in this world.”