McLean Langley High School welcomed students, faculty and staff to their courtyard Friday, May 18, showing off student’s artwork and the Eco Club’s recent garden plantings.
The courtyard has also been certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, meaning it meets the four basic elements for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover and places to raise young.
For Lala Johnson, who volunteered for years at Langley, returning to the courtyard was a reunion of sorts.
"I feel like I have a familiar relationship with almost every planting here," said Johnson, who led a group on 2003 to start trimming back plants to make the courtyard presentable. "I remember when it looked like a jungle in here, but as we got students involved they really took ownership and it became a point of pride for the entire student body."
Many of the courtyard’s flowers bloomed early this year due to the warm weather.
"They came out with our early Spring, but we’ve had some cold nights, which has helped things last a bit," said Langley science teacher Deanna Den Hartog.
Students could attend the pen house between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, to enjoy the weather, see the plants and examine some nature-themed artwork on display from the art classes.
"It’s pretty cool to see my piece on display in the courtyard where people will be hanging out most of the day," said sophomore Owen Lee, who had a piece on display.
Senior Paige Stuhlmuller has two pieces on display in more permanent locations. She designed signs for the wildflower section on the north side and the woodland habitat in the southeast corner. The names are made to look like part of a natural landscape, interwoven with flowers, branches and other plants.
"I went through a lot of pictures of native flowers, and figured out ways to combine them together and fit the words in," said Stuhlmuller.
The plants in the various sections are labeled, and the Eco Club spent time cataloguing them.
"We put together a binder of all the plants here, so we know what’s there, what berries or flowers it produces and how it looks in bloom," said Jill Baker, a parent with the club.
Den Hartog said the information gathered can also be used by other schools that might be interested in a garden.
The Langley EcoClub has had a busy year, kicking off the county’s pilot program for athletic field recycling, securing a grant that allowed them to work on the courtyard and helping recycle 165 cell phones.