On Nov. 6, numerous students, alumni, neighbors, and volunteers pulled together for the Legacy Project Build-it Day to plant the foundation for an environmentally conscious future at Calvin Coolidge High School in northwest Washington, D.C. The D.C. Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) united with several other local and national organizations to help the school generate an outdoor environmental classroom and greenhouse garden.

The school’s greenhouse, constructed in 1938 as part of the original campus, took months of planning and restoration to create a sustainable learning environment for the students. The Legacy Project provided citizens the opportunity to build up the community’s natural outdoor space and provide students with outdoor environmental education.

“A beautiful thing is going on here,” said Terry Goings, a school alumnus who also serves as the school’s parent coordinator, in a press statement. “We understand that the modernization is a few years away, but in the interim this program provides a great outdoor academic space for the students and a huge community asset. Having so many volunteers help improve the appearance of the school is just phenomenal.”

Volunteers from the various organizations graded and planted garden beds, trees donated by the Casey Trees Foundation and prepared rain and wetland gardens. OPEFM and other participants also rebuilt portions of the greenhouse project and other site amenities like paths, planting beds and underground drainage.

“Hands-on work is the purest means of introduction to the building industry,” said Trisha Grant, executive director at ACE Mentor Program of the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area, in a news release. “This will be a very memorable project for our youth.”

In addition to the Legacy Project and Calvin Coolidge students, members of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Potomac Chapter (ASLA-PC), the Architecture, Construction and Engineering Mentor Program of Greater Washington (ACE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), hundreds of volunteers and over 50 donors participated in the restoration. In addition, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser joined in on the day of innovation and excitement and was able to witness the design work while encouraging the community to stay involved with the project.


Lee Ann Bohene

Special to the AFRO