The Magic Garden is located in front of the school. It was originally conceived by Sarah Creswell, a K-1 teacher who wrote and received a Metro Regional Government Nature in the Neighborhood grant in Spring 2006. Sarah’s hope was to plant a flower garden to inspire children to respond to the magic of growing things by using their senses. As a lead teacher for using the Storyline concept of teaching, she planned a multi-disciplinary approach to using the garden. Tragically, Sarah suddenly passed away during the summer of 2006, before the garden was created. Parents Kristin-Croak and Julie Montagne carried on with Sarah’s vision, using her curriculum as an inspiration and guide. Funding came primarily from the Sarah Creswell Memorial Fund and an anonymous donor. The garden has been dedicated to Atkinson’s former teacher.
Parents Brian Croak and Kirsten Jacobsen-Croak of Croak Creations, Inc. designed a handicapped accessible flower garden which was named the Magic Garden. Kirsten chose flowers that would bloom in early spring, and fall, when students could most appreciate them. Third grade classes contributed to garden design by using mapping and geometry skills from their curriculum.
The Magic Garden plants were chosen with bees and other pollinators in mind. It features a mason bee box, which ties to 1st and 2nd grade insect curriculum. Lavender was planted for cooking and craft purposes. The third graders grew the hollyhocks and forget-me-nots from seed, tying in with their “Growing Things” science curriculum. There are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks placed throughout the garden, providing specimens for 3rd grade students studying geology. There are also Columbia River Basalt columns, which illustrate a significant geologic story for our region.
In December 2007, hardscaping began and the retaining wall was partially built. In January 2008 parents and students, as well as community members, laid the pavers and finished the retaining wall. In February and March 2008 the Magic Garden was planted during the school day by students, parents and teachers.
Private donations and business donations supported the garden in addition to Metro Regional Government grant and Outdoor Learning Gardens funding. A memorial fund, established by the Metropolitan Learning Center where Sarah’s husband teaches, paid for labor and the retaining wall. Sarah Creswell’s family donated a tree. Croak Creations, Inc. donated some labor and materials.
In April 2009 students will create tiles for the retaining wall. There will be scenes from each of the four seasons. A seasonal poem in each language taught at Atkinson, will be included. The languages are English, Mandarin, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Classrooms in grades K-2 have adopted the garden for maintenance and upkeep.