Sections    Tuesday August 22nd, 2017
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George Washington Carver Elementary School students plant sensory garden


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  • Tara Daley/Mountain Ridge High School

Sensory Garden
George Washington Carver Elementary School is seeking its ECO Schools status from the National Wildlife Federation. Among the four pathways they have chosen is Energy.

The classroom in charge of achieving their Energy Pathway is Room L. This classroom is a home to seven students, whose physical and academic needs are classified as severe and profound.

They are all in wheelchairs or braces, some have feeding tubes, have dire medical conditions, and are unable to articulate verbally. Their needs are profound, yet they truly are in charge of Carver’s Energy pathway.

Paired with traditional students, they completed the energy audit by visiting each classroom to measure energy usage. Determined to lower energy bills in their classroom, they will work directly with a member of the Native Plants Society, Yuma Chapter to plant Desert Willow trees on the west wall of their class to block the afternoon sunshine on that wall.

Room L has established partnerships with the National Wildlife Federation Education Director, Jennifer Dowd; the General Motors Corporation Test Track Director, Brian Richard; the Arizona Wildlife Federation, Valerie Morrill; and the Native Plants Society, to tackle this amazing project. 

When completed, the walkway along the north side of Room L will be lined with 5 large ceramic planters. Each one will present a specific sensory experience:

  1. Smell: A variety of aromatic flowers, herbs, and mints will awaken the students’ sniffers.
  2. Sight: Native plants with the most brilliant flowers will be planted here.
  3. Taste: Expect strawberries or snow peas to be planted.
  4. Hearing: Many native desert plants with pods will be planted along with the careful cultivation of the southwestern gourd. This plant is used to make maracas, a traditional musical instrument.
  5. Feel: In Yuma, the brittle bush is a native resident. It is quite unique in that it produces its own refrigerant. No matter how hot it is outside, the brittle bush leaves are always cool to the touch.

“Once completed, the Sensory Garden not only will showcase the efforts of the students who built it, but will attract visitors from across the community to enjoy the sensory experience created by these students,” said  Principal Debra Drysdale. “It will give status and prominence to a group of students “with no George Washington Carver Elementary School students plant sensory garden Sensory-Garden-2-300x291voice” and will remind all that student potential should never be pre-judged.” 

The Carver School Sensory Garden planted by the students in Room L along with their traditional partners, their community partners, and parents will have the greatest impact on the school and the lives of the students.

A sign made by the students will hang on the wall next to the garden which will read: Welcome to our Hear It, See It, Smell It, Taste It, and Feel It Garden. 

The students at George Washington Carver Elementary School are tolerant, caring, and compassionate. It is so fitting that this school is named after one of our country’s greatest botanists and philanthropists.

George Washington Carver famously once said:

“How far in life you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because some day in life you will have been all of these.”

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