Morning News-Lisa Lete
Fort Hall Elementary School fifth graders (from left) Ryan Metz, Caine Teton, Clarita Montoya and Vincent Diaz take a break from the classroom to do some reading outside in the new 'reading circle' - a circle of bright colored benches, strategically placed to benefit from the shade of a newly planted honey locust tree. It's all part of a recent landscaping project on the school grounds made possible by a Lowe's Toolbox for Education grant.
Students and staff at Fort Hall Elementary School are enjoying bright colors and more of nature's beauty on the grounds of their school with the completion of a landscaping project made possible by a $5,000 grant from Lowe's
Fifth grade teacher Garth Carlson applied for the Lowe's Toolbox for Education grant last year in hopes of getting the money "to help make the world a nicer place for the students." He was thrilled to receive the funds in time to get much of the landscaping done throughout the summer before school started.
Carlson said one of the stipulations of the grant money was that only 20 percent of it be spent on labor costs. However, with the help of Carlson's family and other teachers from the school, everything was done with no money spent on labor.
Flowering fragrant pear trees that blossom in the spring but don't bear fruit, along with colorful perennials such as potentilla, the workers planted shrubs in the front of the school. They planted honey locust trees, with lavender, on the side and in back of the building. They chose the trees selected for their fragrance and beauty and the shade that they will provide when they are fully grown.
"There is no air conditioning in the school," Carlson said. "So a lot of the trees were planted by the windows where they will help provide shade for the classrooms."
Metal benches were painted in bright primary colors and installed in concrete at the front of the school and in the back area of the school in what is being called a 'reading circle,' a place for students to read, play games or have an outdoor lesson.
Carlson said one of the final touches of the project will be the installation of a permanent volleyball court, with poles that can be adjusted to different heights. He said the volleyball court should be completed in about a week.
Carlson encourages other educators to apply for the Lowe's Toolbox for Education grants, saying that the paperwork involved is not too difficult. Now in its sixth year, the Lowe's Toolbox for Education program has provided nearly $25 million to more than 5,000 schools across country. For more information on Lowe's grants go to www.toolboxforeducation.com.