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Litchfield students renovate courtyard

6/12/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

WEST AKRON — The school year for Litchfield Middle School students ended on a green note as the planned refurbishment of the school’s courtyard was completed.

The courtyard project was funded by a $5,000 grant received by Gateway to Technology teacher Jeff Whited from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant program. Whited’s 38 eighth-graders in the two pre-engineering classes converted an overgrown school courtyard into an outdoor learning space.

Litchfield is currently housed in the former Perkins Middle School building on Mull Avenue as construction of its new building is underway. Students are expected to move into their new location in fall 2016.

Whited said the students designed, modeled and renovated the space with help from volunteers. He said the project, which started in April, was the first large one for students and gave them a chance to see their ideas come to fruition.

The new courtyard, shown above, includes an outdoor classroom with benches and a chalkboard, pictured below, and a wildlife habitat with a pond, bird feeder and butterfly bushes, shown at right top. There is also a science area with benches around a tree and some raised bed gardens that students will use to plant vegetables next year, and a corner sitting area for multipurpose use.

“It’s been a lot of work — more than anticipated,” said Whited.

The courtyard is home to a family of ducks, shown at right bottom.

School Principal Dyan Floyd called the new area “a little piece of serenity.”

“I think it’s amazing,” she said of the space. “It was learning in action.”

Parents, volunteers and Akron Public Schools officials and board members dedicated the new courtyard in a ceremony the evening of June 5.

— By Maria Lindsay

Photos: Maria Lindsay

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