CVES adds butterfly garden, outdoor classroom

Creek View Elementary School students recently helped build a butterfly garden at the school. (Contributed)

Creek View Elementary School students recently helped build a butterfly garden at the school. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – For Creek View Elementary School gifted resource teacher Melissa Foster and her students, the beautiful Alabama-shaped butterfly garden and outdoor classroom behind the school are the fruits of a lengthy journey.

A few years ago, when Alabaster schools were still in the Shelby County School System, Foster had a vision to spruce up the grassy areas visible from the school’s glass walkways and applied for a pair of Shelby County Education Foundation grants.

After receiving a few thousand dollars in grants from the foundation, Foster got the ball rolling on a project bringing both learning and beautification to the school campus.

The Alabama Wildlife Foundation provided a list of guidelines to construct a school butterfly garden, but Foster and the school’s faculty decided to add a local twist to the garden’s design.

“I had all the teachers fill out surveys to see what they wanted with the garden,” Foster said during an Aug. 14 interview. “Once we looked over those and got a group together, we decided to draw the state of Alabama.”

After a local second-grade Girl Scout troop dug the foundation for the garden, Helena Landscape Supply provided rocks, mulch and flowers needed to turn the garden’s construction into a learning experience for CVES students.

During the last few weeks in the spring 2014 semester, Foster and student volunteers turned a pile of landscaping supplies into a map of Alabama complete with the state’s major rivers and flowers indicating major cities.

“I tried to include as many students as I could. They all found where we live on the map, and we talked about the different regions of Alabama,” Foster said as she looked over photos from the garden’s construction.

The garden now serves as an interactive learning tool for the school’s students, much like the nearly completed outdoor classroom a short walk away from the garden.

The outdoor classroom also was funded by a Shelby County Education Foundation grant, and was built with the help of donations from a first-grade grandparent. Today, the classroom features six benches and a display board surrounded by a landscaped rock base.

“It’s not completed yet. We plan to put a canopy over it, just because it gets so hot outside,” Foster said, noting a local Eagle Scout is working to build a digital weather station and the Thompson High School 3D art class is working to build murals indicative of the wildlife near the school.

“We don’t want this to just be a Creek View project. We want this to be a whole community project,” Foster said.