In 2015 Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful's committee for Beautification and Community Greening established a mini-grant for in-school beautification projects. Seven schools were recipients of the first round of grants which were issued in the Fall of 2015 in honor of National Planting Day, a program from Keep America Beautiful. Schools from the Dalton/Whitfield area are invited to apply for funding to help implement a project related to beautification. Beautification grants range from a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $250. Applications are due in early September, with winners announced the following week. Projects take place in the fall and are completed no later than the first week of December. Project summaries and photos are sent in by mid-December before winter break. 

2016 Mini-Grant Recipients Project Showcase

Congratulations to the grant winners! We're so proud of how you involved the students in growing and planting at school. Below is a list of the schools and a summary of their project. 

1.  Christian Heritage School - Pathway to Pollination

Kindergarten, Pre-First, and First grade students collaborated with 5th grade students to create a pathway beneficial to pollinators on campus. The new garden is an entryway for students to visit the greenhouse and new Makerspace area. The previously empty grass field will now serve as a living pathway to teach students about pollinators and native plants - and of course make the campus more beautiful. About 70 participants dedicated 30 hours of work to make it possible. 

The enthusiasm shown by the teachers and students for the project and the support of the administration played a large part in the success of the project. The group involved heard several positive comments from staff, parents and visitors. Parents also commented on the way the different grades worked so well together to complete the project. 

Besides the mini-grant funds CHS received $100 in plant material from the Modern Woodmen Association's Dalton area youth service club. And, CHS provided the mulch and soil needed for the project. 

2.   Eastbrook Middle - Patriotic Bog

No report available at this time.

3.  Pleasant Grove Elementary School - PGE Certified Wildlife Habitat

This project enabled students to transform the courtyard into a certified wildlife habitat that will also serve as an outdoor classroom throughout the year. The project aimed to create a space that offers wildlife food, water, cover, a place to raise young, and develop sustainable practices. The wildlife habitat can now encourage students to engage in the beauty of nature, and spark their love of learning about nature and ecosystems. 40 students dedicated 4 hours to the projects installing nesting boxes, a bird bath, and several types of plants. 

Something good that came out of doing the project was that some of the students had never had the opportunity to do any kind of gardening. They loved the discoveries they made while digging and putting plants in the ground. The students also made a world to text connection by associating the project with a book that they were reading in the classroom. They were very eager to help and enjoyed working outdoors to make their school grounds more beautiful. 

4.   Westwood Elementary School - Westwood Playground Garden

At Westwood students had the opportunity to dig in the dirt and learn about how gardens grow by transforming an area of the playground that had been neglected. Thanks to the grant they were able to purchase heavy, durable tools and watering cans for the students to garden. And, they purchased enough broccoli plants, carrots plants, and butterfly bushes so that every grade level involved had an opportunity to work the soil and nurture their plants. 500 students dedicated about 80 hours of work to transforming their playground. First United Methodist Church also volunteered their time during their church's "Be The Church" volunteer efforts.

Here's a note from the teacher: Some of the unexpected moments occurred when students were digging in the dirt and found "critters," especially worms:) We often had impromptu lessons on how the soil is alive and "nutritious" if there are worms present. We went on to discuss how worms eat and poop in the soil making it rich in nutrients for the plants to use and grow healthy. Another memorable and impromptu lesson had to do with the butterflies we saw on the milkweed and butterfly bushes. We talked specifically of monarchs and their struggle for survival. We discussed reasons of overdevelopment of wild places where critters like the monarchs must have for survival. It made us all stop and think about the influence humans have over the natural world, and how we must take care of nature in order to keep Planet Earth healthy. So, just by being outdoors digging in the dirt and planting, some really unique and very educational opportunities came about.

5.   Brookwood Elementary - Mini Lakeshore

During the fall season 4th graders from Brookwood built an elevated pond to replicate the Lakeshore Park ecosystem. It will contain different water dwelling creatures from Lakeshore, like mosquito fish, snails, and small turtles. These will be cared for in this temporary exhibit to provide younger students and visitors with the chance for closer observation, and function as an interactive space in our courtyard. The school will have a place where aquatic animals rescued from Lakeshore can stay and live until they are return back to the lake.

102 4th grade students participated in the project over the course of 12 hours. They designed, measured, cut pipes and pre-assemble the pond. They loved it. The best part for them was cutting the PVC pipes and figuring out the right connectors. The full project will be completed in the spring when the water pump for running water can be installed. 

6.    New Hope Middle School - Butterfly Garden

The autism resource class gave the butterfly garden at New Hope Middle some much needed TLC this fall.  Students were able to add fresh mulch and plant new plants after using their math skills to determine how much was needed.  They were also able to use math to determine how many pavers that we needed. There were many good things that happened during this project. Students worked together and used social skills to complete the project. Approximately 20 participants dedicated 30 hours of work to the garden.

7.    Dug Gap Elementary - Stay Cool at School

Dug Gap Elementary recently added a new playground for 4th and 5th grade but, with no shade in sight. Students took the opportunity to begin a tree planting project. After studying the playground and communicating with their community business partners they determined they had room to plant three maple trees. With the grant they were able to purchase trees from Fiddleheads, while the Whitfield County Schools maintenance department advised on placement. 90 students participated dedicating about 25 hours to the project from research to planting.  As the trees grow they will make the playground an enjoyable area for students and teachers to get fresh air, exercise, and appreciate the lovely outdoor environment. And, of course the new trees will provide shade and alleviate some of the heat. 

Students also got an appreciation for the time and effort it takes to follow through with a project. They had lots of discussions about the path of the sun over the school building and the time of day that they would be using the playground, and the optimal placement for maximum shade. They also saw teachers meet with many people including school personnel, utilities workers, nursery staff, and even the tractor drivers, and got a better understanding of how all the parts have to work together to accomplish a task.

8.   North Whitfield Middle School - Mulch and Beautify our School

Students mulched and planted new plants along the front of the school which hadn't been cared for in years.  The project added mulch to cover the plastic that was showing through the little bit of mulch still in place.  Additionally, some hardy plants were planted into the space to add some beauty. This project will dramatically improve the overall aesthetic of the front of the school, which evidence indicates, improves the school pride culture. If students have more pride in the appearance of the school, they will take better care of the adjacent areas. 

In the fall 65 participants dedicated a combined 118 hours to completing the project. Also involved was the NWMS Beta Club, and a private donor who supplied additional top soil and the bulbs. Students planted hundreds of donated bulbs including hosta, canna lilies, irises and monkey grass. The mulch purchased with the grant was enough to cover all the flower beds across the front of the school. The Beta Club students provided the manpower over 3 different afternoons. Students received an impromptu lesson how how to split bulbs. For many students, it was the first time they had ever worked in the dirt or planted anything. Our beds are flush with earthworms which was interesting for students who had studied them academically yet never physically seen an earthworm.

2015 Mini-Grant Recipients Project Showcase

Congratulations to the grant winners! We're so proud of how you involved the students in growing and planting at school. Below is a list of the schools and a summary of their project. 

1.)   Antioch Elementary – Pollinator Habitat and Classroom

There two objectives for creating this habitat. The first is to create an outdoor classroom that students could study pollinators life cycles. The scond is to create a habitat that meets the the requirements for the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail. We are going to let the ground stay covered until the first part of January. Then we are going to seed and cover the seed with mulch because most of the seeds have to be cold stratified to germinate. Also some of the plants in the seed mix take two to three years to become established. This project is ongoing and has metamorphosed into a prairie restoration project.

2.)   Eastbrook Middle School – Mustang Magic: Making Plants Change Color

Eastbrook Middle School was one of the recipients of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful's mini-grant initiative for the 2015 National Planting Day. Their project was "Mustang Magic: Making Plants Change Color". Many students had never planted a tree or shrub. They enjoyed it and are excited to see the results in the spring. They were shocked with the notion that the pH could alter flower color.

3.)   Dawnville Elementary – Dawnville Reading Garden

The purpose of the Dawnville Reading Garden project is for students to see the life cycle of a flower bulb from bulb, planted in the fall, to flower, emerging in the spring. Students study the life cycle of plants throughout the elementary school years. This would be a great hands on learning project for students. This project would also add color to the Reading Garden for all to enjoy. The students really enjoyed talking about the flower parts and then actually seeing, feeling, and planting the bulbs.

4.)   Brookwood Elementary – Color Spectrum Garden

This garden is inspired by Claude Monet's flower garden in France. The Color Spectrum Garden was built and planted with different flowers, like Monarda Jacob Cline, Blue Asters, Orange Black Eyed Susan, Yellow Mums, Indigos and purple Tulips, which represent color spectrum, some seeds will be sown in spring (Milkweed). Bond Ragsdale, Scout member of Troop 2, helped with building and planting as part of his Eagle Scout project. There were also 5 other scout workers preparing the soil and planting. 

The goals with the Color Spectrum garden are: teach the students about the color spectrum, parts of the flower, cycles of the different plants, as well create habitats for insects , birds and other small creatures that students can observe, and learned about it. The students will be learning how to care the different plants. It will be an outdoor classroom for observation and inspirations for journaling in science, language arts, and art classes.

5.)   Coahulla Creek High School – Colt Horeshoe Planter

Coahulla Creek High School was one of the recipients of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful's mini-grant initiative for the 2015 National Planting Day. Their project was "Colt Horseshoe Planter". As part of the vocational instruction for special education students, students and staff from Mr. Ogas' class designed a planter in the shape of a large horseshoe made up of boxwood shrubs. The shrubs will take a couple of growth seasons to grow fully together, but the design is great and the look is still very aesthetically pleasing.

The goal was to provide a visually stimulating plant-life decoration for all students to enjoy while they are at lunch everyday. It will also aim to generate school sprit/pride by featuring the school logo, a horseshoe. Furthermore, the project in itself, including the upkeep, will provide hands-on landscaping/horticulture instruction for students with special needs. Mr. Ogas said, “Our class has got a bunch of positive recognition for their hard work building the planter. Teachers and students have told individual special ed. students how good of job they did, and how great it looks. These compliments have really encouraged the students in my class and made them proud of the work they did.”

Imperial Landscaping was a HUGE help. Mr. Brian Whitmore, owner, was instrumental in the success of this project. He helped with the design/layout of the horseshoe, taking care of all the finer details and making the vision come to life.

6.)   Westside Elementary – Play in the Shade

Westside Elementary School was one of the recipients of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful's mini-grant initiative for the 2015 National Planting Day. Their project was "Play in the Shade". 

5th grade Girl Scout Troop 11622 members who also attend Westside Elementary School organized this project. The girls said, "One of our playgrounds is very sunny. We would like to provide a little shade for all the children that play there. Maybe even for our children to play under some day."

The group planted a maple tree because they provide plenty of shade, they grow fast, they are beautiful to look at in all seasons, and their leaves are easy to clean up.

7.)   Dalton High School – Amplify Your Assets

Dalton High School was one of the recipients of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful's mini-grant initiative for the 2015 National Planting Day. Their project was "Amplify Your Assets".

Dalton High School Catamounts \ Dalton High School Future Farmers of America (DHS FFA) was able to beautify three major areas of our school while working with trees for the first time. 

In front of DHS students planted rose bushes, loripetalium, liriope, daylilys, and dianthus; on the hill next to the Agriculture classroom, DHS FFA students planted two Japanese Pencil trees and the Tiger and Webelo Scouts planted three Eastern Redbud trees; and in the rear area of DHS, students planted a Lace Leaf Japanese Maple tree, daylilies, and other perennial plants and vines. The Grant money also paid for mulch and garden and top soil to plant and help preserve the new landscaping. 

The most common thing I heard everyone say was "Wow - this looks so good!"