PCMS develops memorial garden, seeks donations

Published 4:29 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2009

&dquo;The vision for this area is that eventually we will have picnic tables, rose bushes and butterfly plants placed here by school members in honor of loved ones who they want to remember,&dquo; says Principal Hank Utz. &dquo;I have been working with extension director John Vining on which trees and plants we should plant and our first are these trees in memory of former teacher and principal Larry Warren, and two of our students who have died, Tyler Biggerstaff and Whitney Earley.&dquo;

Recently Polk High agriculture students in Chauncey Barber&squo;s classes planted a swamp white oak, a large shade tree that favors the area&squo;s native white oak but transplants better; a &dquo;Forest Pansy&dquo; redbud, a tree that blooms like Polk&squo;s native redbud trees but has purple foliage during the growing season, and a &dquo;Prairifire&dquo; crabapple, a tree that has beautiful pink flowers in the spring and attractive red fruit in the autumn.

The swamp white oak was planted in memory of Warren, the &dquo;Forest Pansy&dquo; redbud in memory of Biggerstaff and the &dquo;Prairifire&dquo; crabapple in memory of Earley. The school has three stone markers engraved with each person&squo;s name to be placed beneath each person&squo;s tree.

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The three trees were selected so they were in keeping with the original landscape design for the campus, according to Vining, and each of the three trees is an improved selection of tree species native to North America.

&dquo;We hope to make this a pleasant, inviting area that our students and staff can enjoy and also provide a nice way to memorialize our loved ones,&dquo; says Utz. He adds that he plans to plant a rose bush in honor of his mother and father, who have passed away. The school plans to create a plaque that will be engraved with the names of those being remembered.

Anyone in the community interested in contributing to the Polk County Middle School Memorial Garden is asked to contact Principal Hank Utz at (828) 894-2215.