School project: our Peaceful Eagles’ Nest

Living in Balance
By Jenipher Appleton

East Williams Memorial School (where I teach) has been moving forward in an eco-friendly way for some time. We were excited to learn just this week that we will be certified as a bona fide Ontario Eco-School in June of this year.
One of the six components of becoming a recognized Ontario Eco-School is to have an ongoing ‘greening project’. This means there must be an area on the school property which provides shade, nurtures vegetation, and encourages students to be involved in its creation and maintenance.
From the time of the forming of our Peaceful Schools Committee six years ago, to the present Peaceful/Healthy Schools Committee, there has been a vision to create a Peace Garden. Our answer came in early March of this year when Mr. Chris Redfearn, one of our parents, proposed a donation of $1000 (through a Union Gas community grant) toward an outdoor school improvement project. East Williams had to apply for the validity of the grant and consequently won the bid. Principal Vivienne Bell-McKaig embraced the idea with enthusiasm, along with the Eco-Schools Committee.
Once the ball started rolling, the community came together for this project. Students began to design blueprint-type plans for our peace garden. The final design was created from the blueprint by Emily Morse. Grade 5 student Adam Galloway won the naming contest, calling it the “Peaceful Eagles’ Nest” to reflect the school’s spirit name, the East Williams Eagles. Families jumped aboard the project with support, hundreds of donations including: plants, topsoil, mulch, lumber, birdhouses, birdseed, and a tree, along with a great deal of physical labour. Entire families, from ages three to 43, spent many hours digging, raking, hoeing, and planting to implement the framework of the new peace garden. As the project’s core contributors, the Whitmore, Morse, Gregory, Redfearn, Helloway, Baker, and Waht families have been omnipresent during this effort.
Shannon Waht, a local woodworker, constructed a beautiful arbour for the entryway to the space. Carved letters proclaim ‘PEACE’ along the header. Carved eagles adorn the exit side of the arbour. The Kim family donated a birdbath. Every class in the school is well represented by generous donations of their parents to enhance the beauty of the project. Each class has a friendship garden bordering the periphery of the space, which is theirs to maintain into the future.

What does it look like?
The square plot of land sits at the front of the school outside the Grade 1 and kindergarten classes. Each side of the garden is bordered with a substantial burm of topsoil, mulch and a multitude of plants (hostas, petunias, impatiens, day lilies, etc.) The focal point is a raised peace symbol. In each section of the symbol, petunias have been planted in school colours; one section white, one red and one blue. Sturdy benches are being constructed from recycled hydro poles and will be installed shortly. Then the students will be able to come and sit to appreciate the fruits of their labours. Passes will be issued to two students from each class on a daily basis to be able to enter the Peaceful Eagles’ Nest.

Bravo to a great community in the little village of Nairn!