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Volunteers expand Horizon Butterfly Garden with patio

MADISON – An inspiring commitment among community and school groups has produced a useful addition on Horizon Elementary School’s campus.

Horizon students and community volunteers built a patio, which extended the Butterfly Garden section of Horizon’s Outdoor Education program.

“We’ve had a mulch-covered yard area, surrounded by sunflowers each fall,” Beth Bero said. The patio adds seating for students when visiting the Sunflower House and Butterfly Garden. Bero, a National Board Certified Teacher, works as Horizon’s Gifted Specialist and Outdoor Classroom sponsor.

The Horizon students created an analemmatic sundial, like one at Huntsville Botanical Garden. Bero’s students helped in measuring and planning the patio, figuring materials costs and watching Lowe’s online videos on patio installation.

The patio measures 10 by 20 feet, or 200 square feet. White and red pavers form the pattern of an analemmatic sundial (the shadow of a student’s body shows the time.) Vulcan Materials donated gravel. County Commissioner Steve Haraway transported the gravel.

adison Arts Council gave a $500 grant for patio materials. Alabama Wildlife Federation provided a $500 grant for the sunflower bed and for improving vegetable gardens beds. A parent gave an anonymous $200 gift.

Volunteers included Aaron, Rebecca, Gabe and Vincent Franz-Colon; Walton Anderson, who provided a front loader, dump truck and other heavy equipment; John Preston; Geri Ewing; Beth Bero; Chris Bero; Daystar Church Pastor Ben Murray and Gideon, project manager Jason Moody, Joe McKenzie, Levi Alexander, Cody Phillips, Josiah Michael, David and Zane Grisham; and Christopher, Mallory and Graylee Sharp.

“With an additional grant from the wildlife federation, my students are helping to install a sunflower bed around the new patio, sweep sand, rake the remaining gravel, spread compost and do other gardening chores,” Bero said.

Horizon Eco-Kids, affiliated with Bero’s gifted program, help in running Horizon’s Environmental Education program. On April 30 for Earth Day, they are helping with lesson plans from Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Outdoor Classroom website (alabamawildlife.org) for kindergartners and first-graders.

Eco-Kids are visiting K-1 classrooms to help students plant sunflower seeds. Seedlings will be ready to plant on April 30 around the new patio. When students return in fall, sunflowers will “stand tall, greeting them for another awesome year at Horizon elementary,” Bero said.

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