Davis' sculpture garden helps celebrate diversity
Eighth-graders Krista Gresham (right), Jessie Horvat and Miles Baker helped install a sculpture garden at Davis Middle School last week. The art, inspired by Rachel's Challenge, will serve to remind the students that everyone is different.
Last week wasn't too late for Davis Middle School students to add flowers to the courtyard.
The outdoor area at Davis Middle School now has a sculpture garden inspired by Rachel's Challenge, a nonprofit program that aims to curb bullying by teaching students to accept one another.
Rachel's Challenge was created by her parents after the 17-year-old was killed in the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.
The teachings are based on Rachel's writing and pictures that focused on reaching out to people who were different and picked on by others.
Art teacher Susan Huffman said Rachel's Challenge came to Davis Middle School for the first time last year.
"I didn't have plans to do anything," she said. "When I went to the assembly and saw the message and what it meant to the kids I thought I couldn't let it go."
The courtyard was begging for attention, Huffman said, and a sculpture garden was what it got.
Last spring after Rachel's Challenge visited the school, Huffman said students started working on flowers made from pressurized wood.
Each flower was painted differently by students with weather-proof paint before it was sealed and installed last week.
Small tiles were also installed in the bed of the flower gardens.
"The tiles have messages written by various kids in the school," Huffman said. "They are the messages they came away with."
The tiles carry messages such as "Be weird" and "Be yourself."
It's a message the school was able to bring last year through fundraising, said Davis counselor, Suzanne Hicks.
"We always wanted to do it," she said, adding that the event was held on a day fifth-graders were visiting to involve them as well.
Davis Middle School has a diverse student population, Hicks said, so the message of accepting others despite their differences is important.
"The kids here take pride that we are diverse," she said. "We can ride that movement."
Eighth-grader Jessie Horvat was involved with the sculpture garden from the beginning and said the message comes through in the art.
"I think pretty much everyone is different and the flowers symbolize that well," she said.
Jack Welch missed out on Rachel's Challenge last year, but was looking forward to the visit this year.
"It's just a way for people to communicate in different ways," he said.
Rachel's Challenge returned to the school this week and Hicks said projects will continue at the school to remind students of the message throughout the year.
The sculptural garden was the first project and the next will allow students to add a link to a paper chain around the school whenever they do something nice, Hicks said. That project will last throughout the year, she said.
Other project ideas are forthcoming, Hicks said.
"We'll let the kids generate the ideas because it has to come from them," she said.