• Photo of students with shovels in courtyard
  • Photo of dirt removal from courtyard

First photo, from left: Kenny Perez, RK Cheipot, Alexander Flores, Amaya Hall and Danny Duarte worked to remove soil. Second photo: Grounds Equipment Operator Gary Brumitt operates a loader to move the dirt from the courtyard.

Horticulture students, teacher leading the effort

New life is coming to the small, unused courtyard to the east of the main entrance at the Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies. Horticulture students and teacher Toree Hiebert plan to revamp the space into a tranquility garden that will represent the student body’s many cultures and include student artwork.

Last year, the horticulture program received a $5,000 grant from the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools. Students began to develop a plan for the space, gathering input from their peers and staff members. They also worked with professional landscape architect Jane Tesner Kleiner to refine their vision.

“I want our school to look cleaner, and be more of a place where it’s a good environment,” said junior Kenny Perez.

On Dec. 11, students began to make the tranquility garden a reality by removing existing dirt to make way for additional site preparations. The students worked with the facility support service center’s Gary Brumitt, who educated them on safety measures and the proper use of tools. District employees also will assist with laying a path in the garden, installing an irrigation system and other requirements.

In addition, students in the welding/fabrication technology program will create stands to display student artwork.

“It’s really a collaborative effort,” said Hiebert, who anticipates that the garden will be ready for planting in fall 2018.