KHS Courtyard Plan

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Angel Griffin, Staff Writer

The Kennebunk High School courtyard has been a part of the school that a majority of community members have wanted to improve for years. After many failed attempts in replacing the gloomy, depressing, and useless space into something more productive and eye-catching, the Environmental Action Team (E.A.T) at KHS is finally in the process of making it happen.

Ainsley Morrison, a senior who is part of the EAT and is actively engaged in improving the courtyard, shared the team’s plan to make a change. They started with looking at past architectural plans for the courtyard when the school was first renovated and discovered that gravel was pushed into the overcast because there wasn’t enough time or money to do anything else. Previous plans to improve the courtyard were unsuccessful because they were unable to get school board approval due to insufficient funding to make it happen. 

After reviewing this information, the EAT put together three surveys; one for staff and faculty, one for parents and community members, and another for students. The survey asked what everyone would like to see done with the courtyard and asked for volunteers and money to support the process. They received around 300 responses concluding that greenery and learning space were the most popular ideas. From there, the EAT made an initial presentation to RSU21 facilities.  Co-presidents Lucas Nadeau and Sadie Yentsch of the EAT presented their plan that ncluded a budget for maintenance, materials, and more. Fortunately, both the facilities and Principal Sirois were very supportive. With their approval, the next step to making the plan a reality was coming up with the proper funding before going to the school board for final approval. 

So far, the EAT has participated in a grant competition through The Climate Initiative to get $75,000 for funding their project. They came in 2nd place and inspired The Climate Initiative to still offer their help and support, despite the EAT not winning the competition. In addition, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust helped them host a walk called the Vernal 5k to receive donations for the courtyard. They had a great turnout with more than 100 participants,  consisting of students, staff and community members, and raised over $2,000. As another way to raise money, the team will also be utilizing our beaches for a green crab hunt on May 5th, where all participants will try to find as many green crabs as possible and win prizes based on how many they can collect. This serves as a double-benefit activity, because not only can the green crabs be crushed and used as fertilizer in the soil that would be used in the greenery, but they are also an invasive species. There are not any predators to limit the amount of green crabs on our beaches, so they overpopulate and prey on other organisms that are essential to the ecosystem. By participating in this activity, the EAT is helping our environment and our courtyard.

While this is still an ongoing process, they have made significant progress already and have gotten farther than most others who have tried to fix the courtyard. During their plan proposal to the school board, a board member revealed that the KHS class of 2018 has passed down $2,762 for the courtyard once the project has actually begun. Since that money has been stored away, it can finally be used with the school board approval thanks to the EAT. We, as students and community members, can support them further on May 5th by participating in the fundraiser. By doing this, we will be a step closer to replacing the dreaded scenery outside our classroom windows with something that has a purpose, is pleasing to the eye, and good for the environment.