CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's always been a bit swampy around John Adams Middle School. The vast asphalt parking area slopes toward the building, leaving mud and water atop a hard clay base. Attempts to grow anything typically have failed.
That's all about to change. An ambitious group led by parents of current students is creating a rain garden in the worst spot in the school's landscape. Not only will the project help with beautification, it is hoped it will eliminate building erosion as well.
In a flier sent to parents and neighbors of the school, organizers explained the purpose of a rain garden.
"Rain gardens are derived from native landscaping. They are made for beautification and are a new way to prevent flooding and muddy fields. The garden captures rain runoff from rooftops. The middle part of the garden holds several inches of rain for 24 hours."
Danita Nellhous, wellness chairwoman for John Adams' parent organization, said the John Adams Sustainability Initiative was one of 11 projects chosen to receive funding from the Sustainable Kanawha Valley Initiative, managed by the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.
Additional help is coming from many sources: the city of Charleston's Storm Water Management Program, GAI Consultants/Engineers, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, West Virginia State University Extension Office, Walker Express, TerraSalis, West Virginia University's CARDIAC Project, and the Kanawha County Board of Education, area garden clubs and the Capitol Conservation District are all involved.
Nellhous said the faculty and students of John Adams will use the rain garden to expand education opportunities in environmental studies. "The garden will provide the ultimate setting for carrying out hands-on learning," Nellhous said.
GAI Consultants created two different designs, and TerraSalis is helping with plant selection. Students, parents and teachers have all weighed in on the plans, and ground was broken while the students were on spring break in March.
A dedication ceremony is planned for May 21, in conjunction with the Kanawha Valley Sustainability Fair. There will be a "Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival" held at the school that evening as part of the celebration.