Emerson Planting Day Brightens Up School Campus

By On February 12, 2019

Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School held Emerson Planting Day on the morning of Wednesday, January 30. Members of the school community, including staff, PTA members and volunteers, joined forces with Burbank Unified Facilities workers, the City of Burbank Recycling Center and Tree People to install plants and trees throughout the school grounds.

“Four years ago when I began my principal position at Emerson, one of my fabulous parent volunteers had reached out to me about developing a garden at Emerson,” explained Emerson Principal Jennifer Kaitz.

“There had been one which had not received much attention or love. Melissa Burton, the parent volunteer/PTA member, has such a passion for taking care of our planet and teaching our students that they, too, have a responsibility in caring for the land and plants. So, Melissa and I worked with PTA/Boosters to get families to come help weed in the garden, water the plants, etc.”

Emerson Elementary School Planting Day brought together members of the school and business community. (Photo By Ross Benson)

Recently, Burton applied for a grant through Tree People. Emerson Elementary was selected to receive a $1250 grant to purchase new plants and three trees for the school grounds.

“Melissa and I wanted to ensure that whatever was planted would be suitable for the weather here in Burbank and could be sustained so the garden would continue to grow and flourish for years to come,” Kaitz continued. “Melissa worked with Diana Sherwood from Theodore Payne and Michelle Bagnato from the Tree People to select a variety of plants and trees.”

After several months of meetings with BUSD Director of Elementary Education Peter Knapik and BUSD Facilites Grounds Lead John Uribe, the group of Kaitz, Burton, Sherwood and Bagnato chose a selection of native California plants for the project.

“We walked the campus to locate prime areas for planting and needed to ensure that the locations would be able to be watered consistently,” Kaitz said. “All plants/trees had to be approved by John prior to anything being selected and purchased. The team was very methodical with every detail for this project.”

On Emerson Planting Day, Kaitz, Burton, Sherwood and Bagnato were joined by Kreigh Hampel from the Burbank Recycling Center, City Councilmember and Master Gardener Sharon Springer, Emerson PTA VP Erin Konstantine, Emerson PTA President Cathy Biermann, and Emerson Stars Booster Club President Joel Taylor.

Rudy Uribe and Juan Uribe from BUSD Facilities were on hand to assist with planting.

(Photo By Ross Benson)

“I had two assemblies in the morning to share with our students the wonderful gift we received from the Tree People and how it will be our responsibility to care for these plants from this day on,” said Kaitz. “During the assembly for grades JK – 2 [they] were able to watch Melissa and Kreigh actually take a plant and transport it to a pot with soil.”

“Third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade classes were brought to different areas to observe the planting.  All fourth grade students actually helped in the different areas to weed and plant with help from all of the adults.”

(Photo By Ross Benson)

Also joining in the efforts was Principal for a Day, Kevin McCarney, founder and President of Poquito Mas, who attended the assemblies and visited the planting areas.

“Overall, this day was a perfect example of how wonderful the Emerson community is working together to make students’ school experiences that much richer!”

Multiple areas throughout the large property of Emerson Elementary were planted with the new plants and trees. The Emerson PTA spent $200 from its garden budget to pay the garden design consultant.  The school used $900 of the $1250 grant to purchase the new plants. The remaining balance of the grant will be used for future garden and planting needs.