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Shiloh dedicates Memory Garden

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

SNELLVILLE -- A formerly bare courtyard at Shiloh High School has been slowly transformed into a peaceful oasis.

During a Thursday morning ceremony, school officials dedicated the Memory Garden, which features drought-resistant plants, a pond stocked with goldfish, and bird houses and benches built by student Aron Rogers for his Eagle Scout project.

"To me, it's just been a great addition to the school," said Nancy Chrisman, who teaches a community-based vocational class. "We just love it. It's very peaceful."

The garden began as a learning environment for a class of students with moderate intellectual disabilities. In 2005, Grayson Technical Education Program students enrolled in the horticulture class collaborated with Shiloh officials to lay a pathway made of tree mulch, Chrisman said. The horticulture students also provided plants for an herb garden and various perennials and annuals.

Rogers completed his Eagle Scout project in 2006, designing and installing three bird houses, four class benches and a wheelchair-accessible raised flower bed. That year, the Shiloh High Beta Club dug a hole for a fish pond with water plants and goldfish.

In 2007, principal Gwen Tatum donated $1,000 to have a permanent cement pathway installed in the garden. Chrisman said the sidewalk addition was the beginning of making the garden a more beautiful and permanent addition to the school.

In the next two years, the Gwinnett County Master Gardeners contributed a total of $1,500 to the garden for plants, soil amendments, bark and other supplies.

Recently, the Gwinnett County Master Gardeners, under the direction of Ron Barton, volunteered to re-landscape the garden with native drought-resistant plants. Master gardener JoAnn Elmore designed and installed a new water pond, supplied with plants and fish.

The Centerville location of Wal-Mart also donated $1,000 in 2009 to assist in the maintenance and upkeep of the garden , such as replacing bark and fertilizer.

Chrisman said the school hopes to add an iron fence with a gate, a gazebo and a more inviting seating area.