Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School Boosters transformed what had been a neglected flower bed into a beautiful and sustainable area, now a focal point at the school’s entrance. This Northwest Native Preservation Area was created thanks to a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant and the work of many volunteers. Cape Horn-Skye was 1 of 50 schools to be selected for this grant, which was written by Jessica Arnold, CH-S Booster Member, along with the help of Leann Wilkins, CH-S Booster Treasurer.
“The project went amazingly well,” said project leader Jean Collins. “We had volunteers working here over three full days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Everyone worked really hard.” An official ribbon cutting was held on Thursday, May 26 in front of the entire student body.
Local businesses, Alder Construction and Timber Creek, were instrumental in the project with donations of rock, gravel, plants, stump planters and the use of a mini excavator. Tony Collins, Greenway Sensitive Lands Specialist with City of Vancouver and CH-S parent, helped make proper plant selections. Collins estimates the cost would have been close to $9,000 without all of the donations and volunteer labor.
The project came together in phases. Girl Scout Troop 45012 worked on phase one to transplant the bulbs that already existed in the area. “Phase two was taking out all of the old bark and planting the new trees, shrubs and flowers,” said Collins. “All of the plants are native to the area so we are sure they will thrive here.”
Phase three included putting in the benches and plantings for the creative writing area. Phase four was delayed due to weather but will include reroofing the cover over the old school bell, repainting the bell and staining the wood parts of the structure.
The preservation area has several special features. Plants are identified with markers that include digital QR codes so students can use their iPad to scan the code and be taken to a description of that plant. There is also a QR code that provides information about the project and another that sends students on a scavenger hunt. Collins spent many hours researching and planning to make information available to students.
Another special component in the project are large, beautiful cedar stump planters. “These trees were a part of the Yacolt Burn regrowth,” Collins said. “They were reclaimed from a storm damaged tree. Now they are planters for huckleberry bushes, which also happens naturally in the forest.”
“We also have a time capsule buried here put together by our 5th graders,” Collins said. The capsule will be dug up when these students graduate in 2023.
“Not only does this work make the school entrance more attractive, we also hope it is used by students as a spot for creative writing and a natural observation area for science,” Arnold said. “We could not be happier with the outcome and what has been created here for students to enjoy for years to come.”