Looking at the main courtyard in recent weeks makes me want to sing the Hallelujah Chorus! Despite my indescribable joy, I’ll save you all the agony of hearing my serenade.
Over a decade ago, someone carefully considered what plantings should be placed in the courtyards of our new school building. Their vision has blessed us with the opportunity to appreciate various blooms and fruits, continuing to delight us when the seasons change.
However, after fourteen years, it is fair to say even the best visions need a good caretaker to make sure things are as they were meant to be. Weeds and volunteer plants make their presence known when given the opportunity! Enter John Frankenfield.
When John heard there was a need, he made the decision to volunteer his time, adopting a courtyard in need of some TLC.
The courtyard face-lift began on a Wednesday as John stood in the courtyard chatting with a family member and imagining how he would tease and tweak the space back to its original orderly beauty.
His imagining was interrupted only slightly by the deafening strains of a planned school fire drill. Undaunted by the piercing sound, he considered which items needed removal, which existing plants were due for a haircut, and how many chrysanthemums would be needed to make his plan a reality.
Friday rolled around, and John was back. This time, he brought friends!
Eldon Miller, Wilmer “Wib” Zook, and Libbie Derstine were his crew. Mulching was the order of the day, and what a wonderful difference it has made! Eldon and Wib are retired Dock Mennonite Academy teachers, having cumulatively served our high school students for 56 years.
Eldon’s wife, Gem, continues to teach first grade students and if her lovely home garden is any indication, this is not Eldon’s first mulching rodeo.
9th grader (Libbie) thought she might have at least part of her day off on Friday to relax like most of her classmates. But it was not to be! Her grandfather (John) is apparently as proficient at coercion as he is at gardening.
I think I saw the crepe myrtle smiling this morning with all that gorgeous mulch around its feet. Even the birds seemed chatty and thrilled with the makeover of one of their favorite spots.
Our students love to spend time in the courtyard. Classroom games, outdoor lunches, seasonal learning and special reading times are all favorite activities in this wonderful space.
Ms. Price’s kindergarten students are seen below, checking out the handiwork of their teacher’s father.
There are other reasons our Main Courtyard is a special place. Several plantings in our courtyard honor friends we miss.
A columnar oak was planted in remembrance of a wonderful kindergarten teacher, Janice Meyers.
Another tree reminds us of beloved math teacher, Karen Nofziger. When the white flowers bloom on her dogwood, it makes us smile.
A gorgeous butterfly bush from the high school class of 1991 honors the memories of both Travis Bechtel and Garrick Clemmer, graduates of Penn View.
We suspect John Frankenfield would like to fly under the radar (or as Director of Marketing, Kathy Gordon, so aptly phrased it, “Mum’s the word”).
But we who peer through the window each and every school day could not be more appreciative. We didn’t want to miss a chance to give thanks for the generous investment of time, energy, and beautiful flowers.
The courtyard renaissance is a truly wonderful gift to our school community.