Coolidge HS "Plant It Day"
November 6, 2010

DC’s Calvin Coolidge HS—Building a Garden, Growing a Community

Washington—Today, dozens of students, alumni, neighbors and volunteers came together to plant the first phase of the innovative outdoor environmental classroom and greenhouse garden at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School in northwest DC. The Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) joined several local and national organizations that collaborated with the school to make the Legacy Project Build-It Day a reality.

“A beautiful thing is going on here,” said Terry Goings, a Coolidge Alumnus who also serves as the school’s Parent Coordinator. “We understand that the modernization is a few years away, but in the interim this program provides a great outdoor academic space for the students and a huge community asset. Having so many volunteers help improve the appearance of the school is just phenomenal.”

The Legacy Project is a program of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the ASLA Potomac Chapter. They collaborated with Coolidge students, alumni and the Architecture Construction & Engineering Mentor Program (ACE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). OPEFM is rebuilding the lower portion of the greenhouse to provide needed storage space and other site amenities.

The work included volunteers from the various organizations grading and planting garden beds, planting trees donated by the Casey Trees Foundation, preparing rain and wetland gardens. OPEFM built paths, planting beds and underground drainage for the project. The full modernization of the greenhouse will occur when the full academic campus is modernized.

Elizabeth Miller, ASLA, a senior urban planner/designer with the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) chairs the Legacy Project and notes that “getting your hands dirty at school on the weekend isn’t a typical high school experience. We worked hard to engage the students in the design and master plan so that the kids and school community embrace what has been started and continue this in the months and years ahead.”

The design was developed during a day-long brainstorming session, held last April with the students, neighbors and alumni who identified opportunities to improve their school grounds. The design creates an outdoor classroom, a setting with seating, pathways and attractive plantings and a master plan for further grounds improvements. The energy and excitement of the charette day captured the attention of Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser who came to see the design work and encourage the community to stay involved with this project.

“The ACE Mentor Program is excited to have the students of Coolidge and a partner like ASLA to venture into the new territory of built projects as a case study, said Trisha Grant. “Hands on work is the purest means of introduction to the building industry. This will be a very memorable project for our youth and will be the impetus to a new dimension of the ACE program.”

The project is supported with the volunteer efforts of local landscape architects with the Potomac Chapter of ASLA, civil engineers with ACE Mentor, and staff with NCPC. Hundreds of volunteers and over 50 donors participated in today’s initial planting and will return to add additional trees donated by Casey Trees on November 13th.

Tony Robinson
Director of Communications
DC Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization
2400 East Capital Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
(O) 202-698-7703 |
(C) 202-439-3277
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