When vice principal Emily Wren got out of her car and crossed the Lincoln Middle School parking lot she saw a rare sight: middle-schoolers oohing and ahhing over plants.
“Middle-schoolers don’t always notice every little thing and they noticed that,” Wren said.
It would be hard not to notice the changes to the courtyard at Lincoln’s entrance. Where there used to be unruly bushes, there’s now brand new plants and mulch. Where there used to be weeds and brush, there’s now blooming flowers and garden poles emblazoned with Lincoln’s motto.
The effort to transform the courtyard was undertaken by Cottage Grove Faith Center as an answer to a call for action from Wren: help transform Lincoln’s campus and instill a sense of pride in students and faculty alike.
Wren initially asked community members and organizations to help the staff with the school’s neglected landscaping back in February. She had a hunch that the grounds were having an effect on Lincoln’s morale and earlier this month, her suspicions were confirmed.
The TELL survey, which asks teachers and administrators questions on several subjects ranging from curriculum to their future career plans, was released the first week in April and showed that 30 percent of Lincoln’s faculty thought the building and its landscaping could do more to promote a positive atmosphere.
“It was way above the average,” Wren said of the survey results.
Wren is hoping to expand on the progress and have more organizations donate their time to “adopt” a courtyard.
Some areas, though, the school will handle on its own.
Tucked inside the campus is a courtyard where Wesley Meadows planned to build a fence as part of an incentive project. However, the 14-year-old was killed in December as he rode his bike on Hwy. 99.
“He was going to work with the shop teacher and build a fence and so his friends wanted to do something,” Wren said. “We’re going to make a memorial here for him. They’ve submitted plans and they’ll build little cedar fence and we’ll have a memorial stone here for Wes.”
Lincoln will continue to roll up its sleeves with teachers mowing lawns on the weekend and students spending detention hours outside in the fresh air weeding rather than sitting in classrooms but the school isn’t opposed to help. In fact, it’s asking for it.
“I would love to get a few more of these areas adopted,” Wren said. “We can’t thank the faith center enough, it’s beautiful and the work that went into it, we’re very grateful.”
For more information or to adopt a courtyard, contact Emily Wren at [email protected] Volunteers can also take part in a school clean-up event scheduled for Friday, May 18 from 3 to 6 p.m.