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Kecoughtan High School students spruce up their courtyard and media center with garden and murals

Students at Kecoughtan High school tackled two very large projects this year that made a huge, visual impact on their courtyard and media center.

In two separate projects and under the direction of Latin teacher James Wickenden and library media specialist Christine Woods, students identified a project, researched, presented their proposals, and made the projects happen. A panel of judges approved the final decisions.

Over 100 students in Latin II, III and IV classes transformed a courtyard located outside of the media center to an authentic Roman garden. The garden contains plants that were used in gardens during ancient Roman times. Every statue, every mural, and every plant located in the garden has a purpose and a meaning.

Wickenden, or Mr. Wick as everyone calls him, excitedly described each of the plants and their purpose. Student Tierra Moody said they first identified the types of plants that were in a Roman garden and then researched to see if they would live in Virginia. Some of the plants included different kinds of herbs, roses, rosemary, lavender, sage, daisies, and dead nettle. Each of these plants have either a culinary or medicinal use.

Moody said, “We learned about each of the plants, their specific climate, and the process for preparing the soil and planting them.”

The garden has been a project that involved many different communities in the school. One section includes herbs that were planted by special needs students. They will water the flowers and keep the weeds down. They also made a mosaic stone that is in the garden.

The garden also includes large paintings on either end that are indicative of the time period. One represents day and the other night. Students painted two large snakes on another wall. During Roman times snakes were a symbol of prosperity.

The plants in the garden were purchased with a $250 grant from the Virginia Education Association. Woods, Wickenden, and community members donated many of the objects and services.

The inside of the media center has also received a transformation. The large windows have been painted with artwork depicting the 2019 Commemoration. They include the first Africans arrival at Old Point Comfort in Hampton and the arrival of the first women in Jamestown. Like the Roman garden project, students worked on the murals as a part of project-based learning involving research and authentic presentations to a board of review.

The mission of the 2019 Commemorative Commission is to promote the history of the first Africans in the new world and to plan events leading up to a yearlong remembrance-commemoration program in 2019.


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