All through the day — November 30, 2009 — I had the pleasure of watching lots and lots of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, from Clement Middle School, in Redlands, Calif., transform a dusty hole in the ground into a beautiful, rock-lined, plant-accentuated pond; it even had its very own electronically controlled waterfall.
As the day, and the pond, progressed, students showed up during staggered periods to lend a hand. They helped dig (one student, who was purported to be not much bigger than the jackhammer he wielded, loosened the sun-parched earth with the spadelike blade of the jackhammer; this helped with the actual digging of the hole), unfurl and position the pond’s rubber liner, line the sides of the empty pond with large rocks, dump wheelbarrows full of smaller rocks into the bottom, wash the gravel and rocks and drain the resulting “liquid dirt” back out, plant aquatic plants, install the waterfall and filter boxes and fill the pond with water. The enthusiasm became more and more palpable with the arrival of each successive group of students, as they marveled at the progress of previous classes. Occasionally, other students happened by and pressed their noses up against the chain link fence, separating the pond area from the school proper, intent on seeing the unfolding pond for themselves; they had to be gently pulled away by their teachers.
At the end of the school day, students who participated, along with faculty advisors, Clement Middle School Principal Robert Clarey, Eric Triplett, owner of The Pond Digger, a pond installation business that oversaw the project, as well as a couple of Triplett’s employees let out a thunderous cheer as Principal Clarey flipped the switch and the waterfall began to flow.
“The pond is looking great and is now home to several goldfish and some mosquito-eating fish that we picked up from vector control. It is always fun to see a group of kids watching the water flow and talking about the build day,” Clarey divulged in a recent e-mail. He expects some “locals” (frogs and toads) to show up on their own as well.
The best part was that everyone, all day long, worked hard, got along and was encouraged by what they accomplished together.
Hey dads and moms, if you’re looking for an educational family activity, one that will captivate, encourage and inspire your child or children, you might look into building a small backyard pond similar to what the students at Clement Middle School put together. To learn more about the Clement Middle School pond project, be sure to check out the video included with this blog.