Avondale garden clubs team up to improve Avondale Elementary SchoolThe Avon and Avondale Estates Garden Clubs are working on landscaping improvements at Avondale Elementary School. The project also includes totem poles that are being built and painted by members of the community. Photo submitted by Bruce Johnston.
By Zoe Seiler, contributor
Avondale Estates, GA — The two garden clubs in Avondale Estates are teaming up to help improve the Avondale Elementary School.
Avon and Avondale Estates Garden Clubs have been working together throughout the years on a number of smaller projects at the school such as landscaping and a butterfly garden.
Several years ago, Avon Garden Club sponsored a program to update the landscaping on the side of the school facing Covington Highway that made some difference, said Bruce Johnston, a member of both garden clubs.
“I mean it did help the appearance of the school, and then it just sort of grew from there to wanting to beautify other areas of school ground and hope to have a place that can be used as an outdoor classroom on the grounds,” Johnston said. “So, that’s sort of how [the project] came about.”
Now they are working together to improve the landscaping at the front entrance to make it more attractive, Johnston said.
“The front lawn had overgrown plants and needed attention,” said Carolyn Chandler, youth committee chair for Avon Garden Club. “During the pandemic people were bored and it seemed a good time to see if they would like to help with the various parts of the renovation.”
In the last two years both youth committee chairs have contributed to the Avondale Elementary School garden club, said Joan Lass, youth committee chair for the Avondale Estates Garden Club
The Avondale Estates Garden Club was awarded a $1,000 grant from the National Garden Club of Georgia for the project.
“The landscaping is the biggest part financially and we are working with Plants Landscaping to have them do the heavy lifting of removing the overgrown plants, amending the soil, pruning and putting in new shrubs,” Chandler said.
As the landscaping is completed some artistic elements will be added including three 7-foot totems built and painted by community members. The totems will depict illustrations of students, birds, bugs, life cycles of frogs and flowers, Chandler said.
“These totems will be topped with birdhouses built by a local craftsman and painted by artists in the community,” she added.
A little library will be on display as well and is going to be filled with nature-oriented books related to gardening, birds, bugs, ecology, recycling, and environment topics.
Members of the community can purchase engraved bricks to honor teachers, students or share an inspirational quote.
“Some were ordered from the Virgin Islands and one was a former refugee from Cuba who was sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Avondale Estates,” Chandler said. “She and her brother learned English, attended AES and AHS. She went on to Georgia State and now lives in Oregon.”
An additional area around the flag plaza will also have engraved bricks to honor principals and teachers of the year who have served at the elementary school.
Johnston said the garden clubs chose to work on this project largely because they felt the school needed the improvement the most.
“Even though there is a lot of community participation, it just needed more and there was less attention to the school than to some other areas within the community and kids are always good to work for,” Johnston said.
The goal of the updates is to create a learning environment for students to become more aware of native plants and the importance of pollinators, birds and insects, Lass said.
The garden clubs have been great partners to the school and the Avondale Elementary School Education Foundation, AESEF Chairman Stephen Smith said.
“From the Foundation’s perspective, any aesthetic improvements to the school’s exterior and landscaping is extremely appreciated and welcomed as it makes the school more welcoming to staff, students, and the community — making the exterior better reflect the warmth and vibrancy going on in the inside of the school,” Smith said.
There are various ways to get involved in this project.
– Commemorative bricks can be ordered online.
– Funds are being provided by each garden club and the Plant America Grant; however, financial donations are always welcome.
– Volunteers are needed to sandblast and power wash the iron benches in the front of the school.
– Gently used and new books related to nature can be donated for the little library.
– The garden clubs will also eventually need help laying the engraved bricks.
– In April, they will also need help printing and mailing invitations to the “open garden” celebration.
If you can provide any of the above needs, please email [email protected].
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