A fun after-school project that began with planting a garden in one of Chief Kamiakin Elementary School's raised beds last year resulted in a total of three new gardens this year.
Students participating in the school's 21st Century program planted a garden last year, and this year the project expanded to include two more gardens.
According to teacher Rob McCracken, who donated some of his labor to the project, the garden planted last year was named the Peace Park.
This year's students planted a garden at the north end of the school, known as the Four Seasons Garden and one on the south side of the school, commemorating heroes of the community. It is named Heroes Park.
Yesterday (Thursday), the students dedicated the two new parks, with the intention of providing a community atmosphere.
21st Century program site coordinator Ray Norgord said, "It is meant for the community to enjoy, not just the students."
The pair said donations were provided for the parks from a variety of sources, including staff members at Chief Kamiakin, Argus Insurance, Yakima Valley Chiropractic, the Sunnyside Police Department, Sunnyside Lockshop and Van Wingerden Landscape and Nursery.
"It is a community effort," said McCracken, adding that Norgord and students from the fifth grade have been working diligently to replace the old cement and stone benches with seats made of wood.
"It creates a community feel and the wood is softer," said Norgord.
McCracken agreed, stating the purpose of the gardens and the new seating is to help establish a park-like atmosphere.
The duo noted that a bird has already made its home in the Four Seasons Garden, which upon completion will have a water feature. It currently holds a foot bridge and plants, which were added to the garden by fourth grade students.
"The second grade students made the stepping stones," said Norgord.
They said the project began in the middle of April, and the work has drawn admiration from other staff members. McCracken said he notices teachers removing weeds from the gardens when they walk by.
"It is amazing how much was done in such a short period of time," he stated.
Norgord added that he feels the community has also helped keep the new gardens and school grounds clean. "We haven't had any issues since they have been planted," he said.
Heroes Park, the work of third grade students, contains plants and a staggered fencing system. Of the efforts of the students, McCracken said, "The gardens show how even little ideas can make a big difference."
He said the idea to create the gardens was inspired by a brainstorming session on how to beautify the school. "The ideas just kept coming," he commented.
At the dedication were members of the Lower Valley VFW posts, Jeff Barrom of Argus Insurance and Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder and Deputy Chief Phil Schenk.
The students said they were proud of the work they have completed and enjoyed showing the gardens to those who attended Thursday's dedication.
Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News
This is one of several plaques placed around the new gardens at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School. The plaques were contributed by Sunnyside Lockshop, providing tidbits of wisdom. A dedication of the gardens was held at the school Thursday.
Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News
Chief Kamiakin Elementary School third grade students participating in the school's 21st Century program were instrumental in creating a garden, known as Heroes Park, located on the south side of the school.