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Cambridgeport Garden Bench Plants A Peaceful Place At The Start Of The School Year

Cambridgeport Garden Bench Plants A Peaceful Place At The Start Of The School Year

garden_bench.jpgSnugly tucked in the middle of a residential block on Elm Street, Cambridgeport School rests comfortably against the backdrop of Area 4’s diverse and historic neighborhood. It has sought to build bridges within the school community by launching a Partner Family Program that matches incoming families to current families. It also imbeds reflection into many moments of the school day and throughout the curriculum.

To kick off the new school year with a special reminder of these values of bridge-building and reflection, the JK–5 school took time during an annual potluck in the playground on September 10 to dedicate a newly constructed garden planter/bench to peace. Officiating at the school’s request was Brian Corr, Cambridge’s Peace Commission director. The brief ceremony celebrated the efforts of many to create a structure that, as Corr reminded, could function as “a place where young people who may be having a disagreement on the playground can come and spend time among the plants and the garden to resolve conflicts, or where others in the community can sit in quiet contemplation and think about the role of peace in their own lives.”

garden_bench_content.pngLeft unspoken amid these words of peace but perhaps evoked in the minds of some attendees were thoughts of world conflicts currently in the news, or even memories of earlier in the year when the neighborhood faced sadness and disbelief to discover that the alleged Boston Marathon bombers had lived, worked and gone to school nearby.

Funded with a grant from Lowes Home Improvement and with contributions from parents through the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, the planter/bench was specially designed and built by Cambridgeport parent Alex van Praagh to be an interactive structure that would take advantage of underutilized space and also increase the quantity of edible and ornamental plants grown on the school’s property. As they do for every Cambridge public elementary school, CitySprouts staff and volunteers will ensure the planter is always filled and ready for use by students as part of the CitySprouts garden curriculum. And because the bench sits so close to the kindgergarten playground, it will also serve as an outdoor gathering place for kindergarteners to listen to stories or to the sounds of nature.

“It’s so wonderful that you’ve been able to get funds and support and help to build this bench,” said Corr. “As a parent of an older child I know that when kids are that age, it’s great to have some place to be calm and sit with other kids and just kind of relax. And to have a time-out without being in a corner somewhere.”