The front of has been transformed into a garden that is not only easy on the eyes, but also pairs well with the lessons being learned inside the building.
After two years of mulching and planting, students involved with the Whitefish Bay Middle School Green Team finished the first phase of their new "learning garden" with help from community volunteers last weekend.
The Green Team started laying mulch two years ago, and spent the last year planning its course. So far, they've planted a wide variety of native species, as well as non-native species such as arctic kiwis, which will climb a trellis created by Brad Hampel and his middle school design and construction class.
Demaris Kenwood, a middle school French teacher and Green Team advisor, said the garden is designed to be a "teaching garden," which would allow art classes to draw nature scenes, science classes to study plant species or simply provide an area to hold classes outside.
"This is their garden," Kenwood said of the Green Team. "We want to give them ownership, so they will take care of it and use it."
The garden also features the beginning of a brick walkway that will pave over the dirt path formed by kids walking from the bike racks to the front door of the school. In the fall, the garden will see two new wooden benches, one of which will be dedicated to outgoing Principal Lisa Gies, who will be at Cardinal Stritch University.
The Green Team was formed two years ago, and was involved in researching native plant species, choosing plants for the garden, doing the actual garden work, and giving a presentation before the middle school PTO, which contributed $1,500 in funding over the past two years.
In addition to the PTO's generosity, the garden project also held fundraisers and received a $1,000 contribution from the Whitefish Bay Civic Foundation. Members of the PTO, Civic Foundation and Whitefish Bay Garden Club came out last weekend to help with the project. Darrell Smith, of Earthcare Natural Lawn and Landscapes, educated the students about different native plant species and helped them create the garden.