James Walker Elementary in Blue Springs is wanting something unique to power up its already unique garden.
This past week, the school has been selling candy canes in order to raise money to purchase green technologies for their one-of-a-kind garden, the Above Beyond Sculpture Garden. The alternative forms of energy will power up the sculpture garden’s nighttime lighting and water pump for a display water fountain.
“We hope to buy solar paneling, a water pump and wind turbine for our garden,” says Greta Hoener, James Walker’s art instructor.
Both Blue Springs Walgreens locations and Cosentino’s Price Chopper - south Blue Springs location - donated an ample amount of candy canes for the school to sell during the students’ lunchtime. From 11:40 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on each day of the week before James Walker was released for winter break, teachers and Walgreens clerks volunteered their time to vend the regular-sized Christmas candy at 25 cents apiece.
“We have a goal of reaching $400,” says Hoener. “And one day this week, we sold $100 worth.”
Hoener elaborated on the Above Beyond Garden. Beginning three years ago, the garden consists of various artwork ranging from handpainted ceramic creations completed by students to even metallic sculptures donated by local artists.
“Some schools may have gardens,” Hoener said. “But they don’t have a sculpture garden.”
James Walker’s art teacher points out that Above Beyond is exclusive to her school in the entire Blue Springs School District, perhaps even in the Eastern Jackson County area as well. As you stroll through the unique sanctuary displaying works of art, one can notice the predominant pro-environment theme it evokes. From the sculptures created out of recycled materials to the hopes of obtaining environmentally-friendly technology as a source of energy in the upcoming months, Above Beyond’s eco-friendly motif is another factor in what makes it unique besides being just an art garden, says Hoener.
She says that ever since Above Beyond’s inception, the evolving garden has been a community endeavor. Engraved bricks that serve as pavement toward the garden’s end show more than 20 local businesses and individuals who have donated landscaping materials, fountains, and of course, artwork.
“A local construction company made the walking pavement, and Home Depot provided the mulch,” Hoener mentions. “Virtually everything in the garden has been graciously donated.”
Although the prime reason behind the garden was to enrich students in a unique learning environment, Hoener hopes that Above Beyond will also eventually become a public exhibit where many artists of the area can share their work. “There is a call to artists this spring,” says Hoener. “And we would like to feature their works of art.” Former James Walker students have already donated their work and even a sculptist from Lexington, Mo., had done as well. She also mentions that the garden will hopefully expand to a larger area nearby instead of present 120-by-14-foot enclosure on the south side of the school.
With its ability to facilitate many different uses, the Above Beyond Garden most importantly can be the foundation where teachers have an opportunity to experiment with innovative and new lesson ideas, says Hoener. She says that it is not limited to just art class, but also can be a place to incorporate geometric or science lessons. “Give a child a piece of the earth, and there is no limit what they can do with their imagination,” she said.
If fundraising goals are met with this week’s candy cane sale, expect an eco-friendly sculpture garden for the public to see this upcoming spring.