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Mountain gardens survive mischief

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Schools > Grant will provide more shade to playground

By Tris DeRoma

It’s been an up-and-down kind of summer for Mountain Elementary School. School officials learned the student gardens were the target of mischief-makers while at the same time, the school was awarded a grant to help enhance its playground.
The gardens are the source for a number of agricultural projects for the students, while at the same time teaching them responsibility and plant care. The gardens are located between the lower playground and a row of classrooms to the right of the main entrance.
They also used to be decorated with signs from their respective classrooms, birdfeeders and birdbaths. However, while summer brings out the warm breezes and pleasant sunshine, it also has been known to bring out the vandals. Parents walking their children to camp found that out the hard way one day when they discovered that someone had destroyed all of the decorations last month.
Karen Henderson, who has two sons that go to the school, had a large part in creating the gardens. As a member of the Mountain Elementary Parent Teacher Association, she wrote the grants that helped to make the garden possible. When school was in session, she also helped water and weed them as well.
Earlier this summer, she was walking her kids to summer camp at the school when she discovered the damage. The garden area hardest hit with damage was used by Ms. Lopez’ class as a butterfly garden; not only were signs destroyed but someone had destroyed the bird feeders and hummingbird feeders, too.
According to Henderson, they aren’t going to try and fix the gardens right away, but wait until school is back in session to see what to do.
“We try to keep them maintained and nice so when the students come back in August, they have something nice to explore during recess, but now it’s not going to be as nice.”
According to the school’s principal, James Ivanovich, the gardens overall are okay.
“The gardens themselves are thriving,” he said, adding that the decorations will probably be left out, at least when there’s no one watching after hours. “We will probably leave them out and take it as a lesson not to have easily moved objects in there.”
An area near the gardens will be receiving some additional funding, too.
“We recently received a grant from Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation to upgrade the environment out there, and to me, that’s a bigger and better story,” Ivanovich said.
The grant will be used to build and erect structures that will provide shade for students, Ivanovich said. The structures will be built near the pine trees on the playground.
“We have a little area outside where the students can go outside and read, and what we have found is that when it’s hot out, it’s hard to bring kids out there,” he said. “So, now there will be more shade out there for them.”