Recently I organised a school ‘cleaning bee’ with a local primary school and students from the Australian National University. We had a group of about 14 students from ANU’s Griffin Hall head out to St Jude’s Primary in Canberra to join school parents for a few hours of gardening, painting and cleaning windows.
I’ve been back to this school a few times for a cleaning bee over the past few years with Raising Hope Education Foundation and have enjoyed seeing the growth of the school, particularly the gardens.
It is incredible how dull and lifeless some schools are, full of concrete and maybe one or two trees. With a vision for a better school environment, a long term gardening plan and some hard work that can change!
This school has used a range of different trees, shrubs and flowering bushes around the school to improve the landscape over the past five years. While they didn’t do everything at once, each year parents and the community gather together to plant a few more trees, trim the bushes and help manage the gardens.
From my understanding, it was one parent who was passionate about nature and plants that provided the leadership to make this happen. He had a vision for a better school environment not only for his kids but for all the children who would come through the school for years to come.
The key thing is to have a plan for what the gardens will look like as they grow each year and how to strategically add trees, plans and shrubs.
Some other schools I know of get students and their parents to come in during on a particular weekend with a plant or tree to donate. Other schools pre-arrange the purchasing of plants or trees as a donation to the school.
It is wonderful to see parents and students with teachers caring about their school and becoming a stronger community. Partnering with the Lions or Rotary Club can also help to bring organisations into the school community.
I hope that more schools take St Jude’s example and create a plan for improving their school environment. Trees, shrubs, bushes and flowers can really improve the environment of a school and make it a happier place for both students and staff.