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Mariner Middle goes green

By Staff | Apr 30, 2011

Mariner Middle School students will experience a different campus once they return from Spring Break next week, due to EnSite’s giving back program EnRichment.
“The campus should look completely different for them,” Jeff Roman of EnSite said about the students returning from Spring Break. “We wanted the wow factor for them.”
Mariner Middle School Principal Rachel Gould said they have had television commercials to inform the students as to what was going to take place during Spring Break. A bulletin board also was created to showcase the plans for the project so the students can see what the grounds improvements will look like.
“I’m excited about making this a beautiful place for kids,” Gould said.
Roman said they chose Mariner Middle School because Gould wanted to make some changes to the campus. He said after he attended an eighth grade career day with his business partner, Jonathan Romine, he was amazed at how little the campus had.
“There was just grass and the grass wasn’t growing,” Roman said. “We decided that we have to do something about this. Kids should not go to school at a place that they don’t feel welcome.”
Romine said since his wife began working at Mariner Middle School they have wanted to do something to improve the campus.
“It was time to make it happen,” he said.
He said the fact that the middle school is a Title 1 school and they raised their FCAT grade from a C to a B also played a role in why he wanted to design a plan for the school.
“Rachel is trying to make a positive difference,” Romine said about the great opportunity to implement the plan during Spring Break.
Roman said he and Romine sat down with Gould and some teachers from Mariner Middle School so they could design a campus beautification plan. The question of “How can we bring the field trip to the classroom?” was addressed when designing the plan.
“Our role was to do the original design and work with the school on where to place things,” Roman said. He said they also coordinated efforts with other businesses in the community to make the plan come to life.
Romine said they were provided with a blank slate at the school, which gave them the opportunity to make an instant impact for the students.
The shade and outside learning spaces, he said, was something they wanted to add because he wanted to provide a great place for the students to learn.
“The campus as a whole is a learning experience,” he said. “It is not just the four walls of the building.”
Jared Renyhart, a 10th grade student from North Fort Myers High School, was put in charge of the project at Mariner Middle School on Thursday and Friday. He said he asked Romaine if he could help with the project, so he could put it towards his Eagle Project.
“This was a project I thought would be suitable for the job,” he said.
Renyhart was in charge of assigning jobs for 25 volunteers on Thursday, which involved digging holes for 20 Fox Tail Palm trees and building eight 4×8 raised garden beds.
The sidewalk “will be lined with palm trees as they walk into school,” Gould said smiling.
Culinary teacher Kim Lindmeyer was among the many volunteers who lent a helping hand in building the raised garden boxes, along with digging holes for the palm trees.
“The whole project is so neat,” she said.
To get ready, Lindmeyer has been taking gardening classes at Echo for the past year to learn more about the tricks of the trade.
She said she is excited about the eight raised garden beds because she will be able to use the vegetables, herbs and fruits grown in the garden in her classroom, which will get the children more involved.
Lindmeyer said she will begin to plant things in the garden before the end of the year that do not need a great deal of attention. She wants to plant tomatoes, peppers, green onions and a variety of fruits.
Gould said next year they will start garden clubs for the students. She said she would also like to have a booth at the Farmer’s Market to sell some of the vegetables they grow.
Roman said the plan was designed to include the students, so they can take ownership for the gardens.
“If we didn’t involve them at all, they aren’t going to care so much about it or want to take care of it,” he said.
Greg Nesser was another volunteer who made it out to the campus Thursday morning to provide a helping hand.
“It is nice to be able to help out,” he said, so he can “make a difference.”
Nesser said the changes being made to the school will put the students in a positive environment, which will ultimately change their morale.
The garden beds, he said will also teach the students ownership and responsibility because they have to care for the plants.
Renyhart said he was glad that they were doing the project for Mariner Middle School because it will be a boost for the students next year.
“Kids will enjoy going to school,” he said about the improvements that will enhance their learning environment.
Roman said they were fortunate that a number of other businesses in the community were more than willing to help them by donating materials or to help with the installation.
Romine said since they received donations of material and plants from six businesses they were able to keep the costs to a minimum for the school. The school was responsible for up to $1,500 out of the $15,000 that the project cost to implement.
He said they have also scheduled two other phases to be done at Mariner Middle School, which will be no cost for the school.
All three phases are expected to be completed next summer.
Roman said they hope to beautify a different school campus every year. He said they hope to either start with a new campus or continue working on an existing campus for another phase.