Allison Buckley nominated Sarah Noble Intermediate School, where daughter Claire attends fourth grade, for YardScapes’ Day of Service green-space revitalization contest. We’re grateful Allison brought to our attention the needs of the students and their courtyard space.
Since January, Allison — who is currently earning a Master Gardener certification through UCONN — has been working with Sarah Noble’s principal, Dr. Leonard Tomascello, to create a safe outdoor space for teachers to interact with their students. The outdoor classroom would be a healing garden, dedicated to the granddaughter of one of the school’s educators who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Alli, the project coordinator, and “Dr. T” — as he’s affectionately called — envision a healing garden that includes a Labyrinth and Memorial Circle in remembrance of the 26 people who lost their lives on Dec. 14, 2012. The biodegradable labyrinth design, from The Natural Playgrounds Store, was chosen because of the way children interact with labyrinths. “Children respond immediately to the pattern of a labyrinth. Of course, they first want to race to the middle and out again as fast as they can, but with training they can also use it for such things as dealing with grief, problem solving, conflict resolution, building community and celebrating joyful events. Many teachers have found ways to use the labyrinth to enrich learning experiences.” (labyrinthsociety.org)
Surrounding the labyrinth will be a circle of 26 polyresin tree seats for the students to use during their outdoor classes, for individual reflection or as a community gathering point.
Role of the Labyrinth
This project resonates with our founder Shayne Newman. “Labyrinths play a multi-curricular role in elementary education,” Newman explains. “But even more progressive—children are encouraged to walk labyrinths before tests to alleviate anxiety or during particularly challenging times to de-stress. If two students are engaged in conflict, they will be asked to walk the labyrinth together. That’s powerful.” The original concept proposed that the labyrinth garden be made of 2″ x 2″ concrete mini pavers, embedded with “donated” materials like glass, sea shells and done by the children under the instruction of the art teachers. For increased durability and a more natural look, we encourage the use of Belgium Blocks instead of the concrete mini pavers.