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Suquamish Elementary celebrates Earth Day Week in a big way

SUQUAMISH – Blue skies seemed a clear sign of good things that have occurred and good things yet to come as Suquamish Elementary School celebrated Earth Day Week with the opening of its new bird observatory garden Thursday afternoon.

And while Earth Day started in 1970, environmental awareness in North Kitsap dates back much earlier.

Suquamish Tribal elder Marilyn Wandrey is testament to this. Wandrey, who attended the school in 1946, was at the ceremony and said she was throughly impressed with the inaugural bird observatory garden, which was created by students, staff members and community volunteers.

She said she hopes students learn as much as possible from the garden.

“It teaches children to respect Mother Earth. It’s a place for birds to come to. That’s what I really like about the garden,” Wandrey said. “They can learn so many things from birds and nature just by watching. It’s a wonderful place where they will see many types of different birds.”

For the past few years SES librarian Jan Jackson’s bird watching group has vehemently attempted to attract birds to the school.

“We put bird feeders up, but they were hard to attract because there wasn’t enough cover for them,” she said.

Jackson credits Lowe’s $5,000 donation for helping make the bird observatory garden a reality.

“Once we found out about getting the grant last spring, the ball started rolling on getting the garden going,” Jackson said. “We also got lots of donations from many other businesses as well.”

Additional funding was provided by the Suquamish Tribe, Grounds for Change Coffee Company and the Suquamish Environmental Education Boosters.

In September 2006, work began on the building of the garden. After seven months of labor, it was finally ready for its grand opening.

“It feels great. It looks really nice,” Jackson said. “I think it gives students a sense pride. It makes them proud of their school and they take ownership in it. It’s their place. They helped make it happen. They worked hard on it. It wasn’t just handed to them. This garden is special to the kids.”

Jackson estimates that close to 100 students of the 475 attending Suquamish Elementary worked on the garden project.

“Every student was aware of it,” Jackson said. “They were all looking at it, especially when we put the water foundation in. They were all checking it out. Dan Blossom is the person who helped us install the water fountain.”

Fourth grader Symon Hansmann is a big fan of his school’s first bird observatory garden.

“I like how they put the plate in there and the fountain, too,” Hansmann said.

Various businesses in the community pitched in to help make the garden what it is today.

Dragonfly Landscaping, Tucker Topsoil, Skelleyworks, Northwest Rock and Forest Pryde Landscaping helped during the construction process.

“I am very grateful for all of the supporters we had,” Jackson. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of a lot of people.”

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