The Courtyards

Sid Hogge, Opinion writer

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We all have noticed the courtyards near Chapin’s hall and the lunchroom. We pass past them everyday, and it’s hard to not notice all the beautiful flowers that litter the ground in spring. The space has great potential, so why aren’t we embracing it?

Students at Mason High School could pretty up the space, making it less of an eyesore, and plant native wildflowers that would benefit our insect populations (like bees!).The courtyards have been out of commission since well before any member of the senior class would remember. Bettering the courtyards would be a nice improvement for incoming freshmen and students that will be attending next year. Doing tasks as simple as plucking weeds from in between the cement slabs, weeding the flower gardens, and filling the empty areas with more plants would improve the space immensely.

The hope is to turn the space into a prettier sight while also benefiting the environment. Wildflowers native to Michigan and plants that benefit insects, such as butterflies and bees, should be planted. Not only would this help the gardens have more life and regain their purpose, but it would help us play our part in helping these insects make a comeback. Filling spaces that are empty and without purpose with plants that are known to attract butterflies and bees, like sunflowers, butterfly bushes, more lilac bushes, beebalm, lavender, etc.

These plants also would bring more color variation to the garden, making it more aesthetically pleasing. Ripping up the old stumps, clearing weeds from in between the cement slabs, trimming the bushes, and maybe even adding art for students to admire would help the space immensely. Most of this wouldn’t cost much because simple tasks can be given to the students instead of hiring professionals. Cleaning the courtyards and giving it a purpose would be more beneficial than it  sitting abandoned. It would give the students something to look at as they pass, and even potentially educate them on the increased importance of doing their part in saving essential insect species.

Another potential of these gardens would be small memorial plots to commemorate the students we’ve lost due to tragedies. Giving these students memorial plaques in the garden would help keep their memory alive and give these gardens yet another purpose. It’s not uncommon for schools to pay tribute to beloved deceased community members such as students and staff members with memorial gardens. The purpose of these spaces are to be peaceful and an aesthetically pleasing to draw in people’s attention, so those we’ve lost can be remembered instead of becoming a memory when the class graduates.    

Students should not be able to go outside when classes are in session. It would be a distraction to neighboring classes like Thompson’s, and Cantrell’s when they aren’t on their lunch periods, and students need to concentrate on their work instead of worrying about friends flagging them down or loud noises.

Another concern would be the safety of the space and property. Though certain students can definitely be trusted to be respectful, we must also be mindful of those who would not respect the gardens and would abuse the privilege. There’s also the possibility of individuals picking the flowers, which would destroy the opportunity for bees or insects to take advantage of that plant. This couldn’t be solved with a supervisor because monitoring everyone’s actions would not only be stressful, but also too much to ask for due to the amount of students that would be in the courtyards.

When asked why the courtyards aren’t being used, Toodzio claimed that they simply don’t have the manpower to maintain them. Individuals and groups have taken the initiative to offer to fix it in the past, but as soon as those individuals graduated there was nobody to maintain them. Within the last few years nobody has taken the initiative to fix them. A way this could be fixed is by starting a club dedicated to maintaining them, and consistently getting new members from each class so the work is consistent and doesn’t die with a graduating class. If we had a group of hardworking, and dedicated students work consistently on these gardens, future classes could definitely see them being used instead of ignored.

The courtyards have been abandoned far too long. Utilizing this space by planting things will help the space feel more alive while also helping our local butterfly and bee populations. Just seeing change and an effort to maintain them would make a significant difference, however taking the leap to make them grand would be worth the effort. Giving students a prettier site to admire that commemorates their lost schoolmates, and friends while also helping the environment would be a great thing for the student body to be proud of and talk about.

Taking the leap to correct and maintain the courtyards would benefit many generations to come.