Sixth-grade teacher Connie Jensen shows students where a time capsule containing letters to their future selves will be sealed and opened upon the students’ senior year of high school as part of a project in the school’s courtyard. Contributed by Brett Turner

Sixth grade students leave mark on Springfield elementary school

Simon Kenton Elementary School’s sixth grade class literally left its mark on the school as the students prepare to move on to middle school in the fall.

The 2016-2017 class recently completed a problem-based learning activity, asking students to solve a real-world problem, and they chose to improve the school’s courtyard as a resource for future students.

The sixth graders wrote persuasive essays in Jonelle Martin’s language arts class and chose an idea from those presented.

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Connie Jensen, the lead teacher on the project, said the goal was to create a habitat for butterflies and hummingbirds.

The program started with the previous year’s students, who removed old plants and put in new perennials. The current students started work last fall and picked it up again in March, weeding, adding new mulch to the walkway, planting three butterfly bushes and flowering plants and installing hummingbird feeders.

“The most significant aspect for me is that this project lets students who struggle academically shine. They become leaders and gain self confidence,” Jensen said.

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The courtyard will be open to all classes. It also contains igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, plants native to Ohio, a pond with fish and visiting ducks.

In the future, students can study invasive species, and controlled growth, butterflies and hummingbirds that will be attracted through the additions.

The finishing touch was a horseshoe sculpture, a tribute to the school mascot, the Colts, with hand-print art sculptures that will remain there permanently. The previous class did a tree sculpture.

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“I thought it would be boring,” said sixth grader Andie Sherman of the project. “It got more fun. I love the horseshoe.”

Another feature of the courtyard is a time capsule burial area. The students wrote letters to their future selves they’ll get back upon their senior year of high school in 2023.

Although she’s admittedly nervous about entering middle school, Sherman is glad for what she and her classmates accomplished.

“I hope others will appreciate it,” she said.

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