Ecology Center renovation underway at Alexander Hamilton School


By Layston Badham

A hidden-away Ecology Center at the Alexander Hamilton Elementary School has taken the interest of environmentally friendly organizations in helping to renew the outdoor classroom to its former glory.

After a storm in October 2011, this Ecology Center was overtaken by floods that led to the growth of weeds.  These pesky plants grew over the raised stone flower beds and mulch paths, making the outdoor classroom look like an unkempt meadow surrounded by parking lots.

An extremely old weeping willow hangs overhead as if watching 11 Morristown high school students revamp this hidden Atlantis for future students of Alexander Hamilton to use.  This outdoor classroom is for the students to learn and enjoy diverse wildlife they could not observe in town.

Supervising the project are school Principal Josephine Noone, Science Academy Research Science teacher Erin Colfax and My Local Garden’s Wanda Knapik. Colfax, co-director of the Science Academy at Morristown High School, organized the science camp.  A videographer has been documenting the progress.

Weelbarrows passing by, hammering talking and shoveling are background noise of the students at work.  Students take on tasks such as building a teepee, mulching paths or building a bench.  Others paint signs for the compost pile or poison ivy area.

Students began each day with a seminar on permaculture, landscape architecture, organic gardening, farming and environmental science.  The living-wall project will use “woolleypockets” made of recycled plastic bottles to hold soil for growing plants up a chain-link fence.  Bird house, bird baths and butterfly-attracting milkweed were added throughout the outdoor classroom to diversify the wildlife for the elementary students to observe and enjoy.

Noone has said that this area had had more work done in the past five days than the past five years combined.



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