CCES’ New Backyard

Lilly Harris, Lead Student Writer

To initiate springtime for the second semester of the 16-17 school year, various clubs and grades have gotten involved in improving as well as enjoying the Christ Church habitat area. This area is located behind the Upper School art room, just through the double doors. Students are always encouraged to step outside and walk the pathways down to the sitting area in the heart of the woods. Inspired by the change in weather and common goal to advance our environmental conscience at CCES, students from the Upper School Environmental club have joined together to create rain barrels that will conserve water. Mrs.Ungar was able to treat her ninth grade classes to journaling outside and Mrs.Varat’s  5th grade science classes have been working on nourishing the gardens and  building wildlife homes. As this area of our school continues to grow, students and faculty may be granted the opportunity to have classes in CCES’s new and improved ‘backyard’.

The idea to refurbish the gardens can be traced back to Mrs. Hollis’ fourth grade classroom. Last year,Hollis’ class was prompted to get started on their fourth grade exhibition projects, a old time tradition for all ‘seniors of the lower school’. The fourth grade exhibition can be compared ,in many ways, to the sophomore project or senior thesis presentations that loom over the minds of our upper school student body. This final project, that ultimately wraps up a fourth grader’s time in the lower school, will also confront a global challenge hands on. Mrs.Hollis’ young pupils decided that they wanted to think more about their environment and focus their attention on the gardens at CCES. Thanks to the help of Mrs. Hollis and her little gardeners, the outdated planters have been replaced  with a pond for new wildlife to emerge. Students worked hard to retract the weeds and replace them with wildflower and milkweed seeds. The work the fourth graders accomplished build on a student’s ability to think beyond the classroom environment and focus more on the world around them.  

Following the fourth grader’s hard work in the garden, Mrs. Hollis handed the learning opportunity to Mrs. Varat’s students. Mrs. Varat is the fifth grade science teacher and knows their actions in the garden build on CCES’s mission to create environment friendly students. The students were then able to delve into the challenges ahead of them such as  creating bird, butterfly, and even bat houses. The Varat classes’ main objective was to act as a maintenance team and rid the garden of invasives such as Japanese Privets and Bradford Pear Shrubs, that often times can become noxious plants to the local wildlife. Students were able to install a tracking station that marked tracks left behind to let the children know what kind of animals inhabit the area. The projects with the garden also provided the fifth graders with new skills such as mapping and plant identification through a herbarium, which is the process of housing dried plants. Mrs.Varat encourages all students to “expand their learning experiences to the outdoors because it can be very beneficial to learn in nature, than just inside a classroom.”

Not only have the teachers established new ideas for the habitat area, but the Upper School students have gotten involved as well. The two leaders behind the Environmental Club’s participation in the remodel of the neglected woods and garden area, are president, Cooper Stancell and vice president, Lucy Kehl. Stancell has an energetic approach to conserving the environment and “is always striving to improve it.” Environmental Club enjoyed using their free time at Christ Church to “get rain barrels and paint fun designs on them all to bring awareness for world water day”, earlier this year  (Stancell). Kehl also shares the same passions for sustaining the environment as Stancell does. Lucy advises everyone to take a role in conserving their community through tips such as bringing a water bottle to school and remembering to recycle. After all, the smallest change can lead to a huge global impact.