New Paltz High School Courtyard GardensThe Courtyard Garden is in the center of New Paltz High School and spans 140 by 80 feet. The gardens hold more than 200 plant varieties in over a dozen theme gardens. The Courtyard Gardens began in 2007 under the guidance of Cathy Law. The design for the garden is inspired by the High Line garden in New York City. Xeriscape, low maintenance plants are arranged in sweeping, naturalized plantings reminiscent of a meadow. Garden construction and maintenance are done by the assistance of the Environmental Club and AP Environmental Science classes. Funding for the garden is provided by the Foundation for Student Enhancement, PTSA and others.
In our Green Classroom it’s all about doing! Inquiry based learning activities encourages critical thinking and raises test scores. The sheltered garden oasis provides a wonderful opportunity for learning science, English, social studies, and foreign language in a way that comes to life.
Biology students use the garden for collecting and identifying insects, studying ecological communities and bird behavior. Environmentally based labs emphasize building critical thinking skills such as questioning, investigating, forming hypothesis, interpreting data, developing conclusions in a way that grabs students’ attention.
Through project based learning such as building a new garden bed or making a dry pebble stream, AP Environmental Science students develop and practice their leadership skills through working in teams to solve construction and horticultural problems. Garden zones currently undergoing improvements include Culinary, Bird, Butterfly, Touch, Rock, Medicinal, Native and Scented Gardens.
The Environmental club members pick up valuable horticultural skills though maintaining the Courtyard Garden. Club meetings also include craft workshops such as flower arranging, garden design, and making holiday wreaths.
The Courtyard Garden builds a positive school environment as well. Past school-wide events held in the garden include Art, Coffee and Snacks in the Courtyard. Snacks in the Courtyard feature international finger food using spices from the culinary gardens to teach students food literacy and promote healthy eating habits.
Spending time in the Courtyard Gardens helps promote environmental stewardship too, by instilling a love of nature.