The Joe Childers Memorial Garden at Atkins High
Note: On Thursday Sept. 24, Melanie Langley, the Atkins teacher working with the students, learned that the Garden Club Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County has approved a Garden Club Council Beautification Grant of $845 for the project.
Dr. Chris Nichols is the principal at Atkins Academic & Technology High School.
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By Callie Whicker
Editor in Chief of The Caravan News
Atkins High School
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020 – Even though the COVID-19 situation created a not-so-normal summer, one amazing project came out of it: The Joe Childers Memorial Garden.
Student Kiran Kapileshwari devised the project this past summer as a way to bring some community focus to Atkins High School, and, after Principal Joe Childers passed away in December, Kapileshwari devoted the garden to his memory. The garden isn’t just for the Atkins family; it helps feed people in the community.
The garden was created in June and started out with creating a flyer to help pique student interest. It did not take long for many volunteers to join the cause, who gathered with masks in a socially distanced fashion throughout the hot, Winston-Salem summer to work on the garden, planting, watering, and reaping the harvest.
Members are not affiliated with the garden yet, due to it being a SNHS (Science National Honor Society) project. To be considered a member, one needs to be inducted into SNHS here at Atkins.
A total of 17 volunteers have worked in the garden over the past couple of months.
Currently, Kapileshwari is in the process of getting a grant for the garden. Kapileshwari said, “This grant is to get perennial plants and pollinators as well as fruit trees. It pays for the plant matter we’re going to get.”
After Kapileshwari graduates, the mission of the garden will be maintained by underclassmen. This person will need to be trained in order to take care of it, but it will be in good hands.
“We wouldn’t be here without donations,” Kapileshwari said. “We got about $400 from Atkins families. That’s an incredible amount. Almost everything we’ve bought so far is just from that. There was one donation from a group of teachers at Speas Elementary.”
Speas Elementary was one school where Childers worked and the donations were made in his honor.
Melanie Langley is the teacher in charge of the project. She has let the project be all student-led due to the fact that she wants the focus to be on her students’ work.
“When it comes to student projects, I stand back and let the students shine. It is not for the adult to take credit; it’s for the young people to make sure they are the ones in charge,” said Langley.
The garden has already donated 15 pounds of produce to Project Hope, a homeless outreach program in Winston-Salem.
The hope for the garden is to be able to expand the two garden beds into four, with the help of Dr. Chris Nicholas. If the idea is accepted and funded, the garden would have a total of four beds. Langley has planned for the space to become an outdoor classroom in the future when Atkins staff and students return to campus.
SNHS plans to work toward a recycling program at Atkins, which it does not have currently.
Cecilia Bierman, part of the project, said, “This is something that I’ve wanted to start for a while, recycling at our school, because it’s a really big deal.”
While there used to be a recycling program at Atkins, there has not been one in several years.
Atkins is becoming more environmentally conscious through SNHS!