bgsa logo and link to homepage

Schoolyard Greening at the Lincoln School
By Randolph Meiklejohn and Liz Vizza Hines

Lincoln School has been the setting of a number of "schoolyard greening" projects and special events, thanks to the Lincoln community's response to the efforts of its recently formed PTO Landscape Committee.

In the fall of 2000, with their children inching ever closer to 8th grade graduation and the high school, a few Lincoln parents told themselves "now or never" and launched the new Lincoln Landscape Committee. Among the parents forming the committee are two landscape architects whose firm had designed the grounds to which the school relocated in 1994. Others soon joined up, and together they developed a series of goals, including the determination to develop a collaborative master plan that lays out a vision for phased landscape improvements, and to establish a sustainable landscape maintenance plan.

Spring 2001 saw a school-wide planning and visioning effort, conducted in hallways and classrooms, where students, staff and parents were asked to imagine, write and draw. Their contributions became the basis for a master plan of physical improvements, development of educational and social areas, and tree plantings. An Arbor Day observance and tree planting rounded out the year in May.

Planning work was interrupted by September 11, 2001, but within a few weeks the school and the committee had agreed on a way to acknowledge the tragedy: a flower bulb planting across the Lincoln grounds. During one week in November, every student in every class planted a bagful of bulbs—six thousand in all, and in spring 2002, crocuses and daffodils bloomed for weeks and weeks as a quiet, beautiful memorial. Students at two grade levels also created art works related to the bulb planting, which are on display in the school.

Over the past year and a half, the "greening" projects have continued and expanded as committee members try out new collaborations with teachers, Town staff, students and parents. The school leadership and community have welcomed each initiative, and the Town Parks & Open Space Division has both supported the master plan of physical improvements and begun to contribute its labor resources to make them happen. The growing list of current projects includes

  • New benches at kindergarten playground installed in summer 2002 (1st master plan project)
  • Environmentalist guest speaker program in January 2003
  • A tree inventory project, coordinated with Town GIS and forestry management standards, will debut in 7th grade science classes in April 2003
  • An on-site garden for classroom use (in planning stage)

The ongoing task for the Landscape Committee is to keep projects integrated with the school grounds and curriculum: to create opportunities for students to participate, to develop materials and events that teachers want to use, to help the community see the potential of open spaces at the school and around the neighborhood. It takes a great deal of communication—both within the school and with the Town—to make these things happen, but the return on the effort has been wonderful so far. Lincoln has just begun building a few of its new landscape projects, but it has already built up its sense of community through working together on its open space, and has expanded its vision of how that open space can support, teach and be cared for by all who have a stake in it. For more information download  Learning Outdoors at Lincoln.