On the Elm Street side of Memorial Middle School, there used to be a patch of grass. That changed four years ago.
Now, the area is hugged by a picket fence that protects the fruits of toiling hands. Radishes, tomatoes, garlic and strawberries are tended throughout the school year, eaten in the classroom and donated to other area schools. Students call it the Elm Street Garden.
The garden class is an elective, so all Memorial students have the chance to take part in the garden. And next year, there'll be a new installation to meet them.
The decorative swatch posted on the fence was a collaboration between garden, art and leadership students. In all, it took just over a year to complete.
“It was designed by the advanced art students and the leadership team installed it,” Memorial art teacher Erin Wallace said Thursday as she stood in front of the art piece. Students had finished just under the wire, the day before on the eve of the last day of school.
The piece is made up of metal shapes painted in hues of orange, yellow, green, blue and purple that are screwed to the fence posts.
Noah Meekins started the project as a sixth-grader, and on his last day as a seventh-grader he toured the site, pointing out the posts he and other leadership students mounted to the existing fence, then stained and numbered so they could attach the art piece.
“We had electric drills,” he said. “Everything after that was easy.”
Wallace and fellow Memorial teacher Mallory Marquet already have the next garden project on deck. Metal flowers will be painted by art students and then installed in bouquets throughout the garden.
“That will happen next year,” Marquet said. “That’s the plan.”