photo by Sophia Lyman

A major PTO campaign at Irving is aimed at remaking the school’s exterior space, and Irving 5th graders have been part of the process through Architecture Adventure. Students worked with local landscape architects Michael Elsen and Colleen Hulen to develop their own site plans that included not only kid-centered ideas, but also ideas that showed an awareness of environmental and community needs.

The students’ plans include a community garden, a rock-climbing wall, grass mazes, and rooftop gardens. Ms. Linne said the climbing wall and an area for playing four-square were ideas not thought of by the adults working on the project, and that these will be considered in the final plans.

The students learned about artificial turfs as an alternative to real grass from Jassen Strokosch, who was Irving PTO president when the Irving Schoolyard Revitalization Project was first developed. Artifical turf, made from recycled materials, doesn’t turn to mud when heavily used and also drains better–into giant rain barrels beneath the surface. “So it’s kid-friendly but environmentally driven,” said Mr. Strokosch.

At times, the students had to check their creativity with reality and safety. For instance, Mason P. explained that “you can’t put a grass maze right in front of the main entrance!” Problem-solving came into play as well. Rosie W. said, “We needed to find a safe place for the climbing wall so finally we decided to put a fence around the field.”

The students all agreed that the process was one of compromise. Kevin C. said “we had a lot of arguments in our group deciding what to put where.” Isaac J. chimed in that “sometimes we had to barter,” and Daija G. said “I know there were problems, but we usually figured it out by majority.”

The students were happy to be part of the process. Kevin C. marveled, “We are actually making something that could possibly come true,” which he noted is not always the case with school projects. Max M. was pleased “just having the honor to design it.”

Click here to see a slideshow of photos by Sophia Lyman.