Feature

Go for Green!

Jodie Howcroft

Go for Green is a bi-annual event at Millgrove School that proves a small school can accomplish big things. It is an opportunity for students, teachers and other community members to collaborate to take care of the gardens and the playground that we have worked so hard as a community to develop over the years. Our tiny, rural school northwest of Burlington has a full time staff of only nine and a student population of 180. Most GPS devices can’t find us and if you’re out for a country drive you could easily cruise right by. What a shame that would be, though. Thanks to the community and Go for Green, Millgrove School is a place where students bounce happily out onto an incredible playground daily – a paradise for children to learn and play.

Our playground wasn’t always paradise. Change started in 1989 when some teachers began working on the playground with students and members of the community. To start, students were asked to create wish lists, sharing their vision of what the playground could become. That same year, staff applied for and were awarded grants from Evergreen Learning Grounds and TD Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Foundation. Many people in the community contributed to the transformation of our grounds. Soon enough, the playground was equipped with trees, a massive sandbox, climbers, monkey bars, a Carolinian Garden with meandering paths, benches, a Peace Garden for quiet play and reflection, and a Learning Garden equipped with benches for outdoor lessons.

Together we decided that a bi-annual event would go a long way in maintaining and building upon our wonderful new playground. Staff called this event “Go for Green.” Every October and May the Millgrove school community – parents, staff, students, community volunteers — all come together to develop and care for our playground.

Cathy Boocock, a Millgrove parent, led Go for Green last May. Cathy and her team met weeks ahead of time to set a date and decide on projects needing to be done. The list included: fresh sand for the sandbox, weeding, planting new plants (with a focus on attracting butterflies), putting down mulch, and fixing a fence in the Carolinian Garden. A schedule was set for the day and staff signed their classes up for hour-long time slots.

On the day of Go for Green, volunteers arrived well before the students with tools in hand. Most were Millgrove parents, but former students and their parents as well as members of the local horticultural club have been known to show up as well.

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