A Dommerich Elementary School alumna has given back to her old school by sprucing up its beloved garden.
The elementary school unveiled a renovated community garden before a group of parents and students on Thursday, Oct. 26 — the result of a project spearheaded by Winter Park High School senior Findlay Lyons.
Improvements to the garden included several floating flower boxes, a wooden image of the Dommerich Chiefs mascot, a birdbath and eight wooden butterfly signs that were painted by the about 680 children in the school.
Lyons also coordinated a booth in the spring where children got to paint their own planters.
It was all made possible by a $500 Disney Summer of Service Grant for which she applied last September.
“(We were) tasked to make your community greener, healthier and stronger, and I thought, ‘There’s no better place to do that than a garden that’s sponsored by an elementary school that everyone gets a chance to use,’” Lyons said.
The garden was built originally in 2010. Several signs had started to deteriorate over the years though, and the garden was in need of attention.
Dommerich Elementary uses the outdoor classroom and garden to teach children about eating healthy and how plants grow, said Dommerich Elementary first-grade teacher and garden coordinator Lisa Rotenberger, whose son built the garden seven years ago.
“It’s something where everyone is included, and it fosters healthy living,” Rotenberger said. “Our school is very big into the goal of teaching children to eat healthy and to take good care of ourselves. We know that when children grow their own food, they become vested in trying it.”
Rotenberger said the school couldn’t be more thankful to Lyons for her hard work improving the garden.
“I just can’t say enough about her leadership and her work ethic,” Rotenberger said. “She’s very gifted with working with other people and taking initiative.”
Lyons feels a sense of pride in what she’s accomplished.
“It really touches me that everyone got to put a part of their hearts into this,” Lyons said. “I saw kids earlier, and they were like, ‘Look! I painted that, and look, those are my lima beans.’ It just makes me so happy to be a part of that and give them something where they can point it out, show their parents and be so proud of it.”