Thanks to the work of 14 ISU students, Normal Community High School has a new 45-foot-long, curved sitting wall along the school’s main entrance.
Associate Professor David Kopsell’s urban landscape management students dedicated about eight hours to the project on Sept. 20 and 21 as part of their lab experience for the class.
“I’m a big believer in service learning,” Kopsell said, “because we talked about the project in class, they got to see it on a PowerPoint, and then we got to go out and actually do it.”
The project was originally requested three years ago by the NCHS Alumni Foundation in response to the large amount of litter that collected around the school’s entrance.
About two years ago, a group of Kopsell’s landscape design students started looking for a solution.
“One of the ideas that we came up with as a class was some sort of wall that would stop the trash from blowing into where the plants are, but the entrance didn’t have any place for students to sit down and wait for a car ride.”
The perfect compromise seemed to be a sitting wall that would serve both purposes, and the Alumni Foundation began fundraising for the project’s expenses.
“The goal of this project is not only to provide NCHS students with an attractive and comfortable place to wait outside, and possibly to meet for classes, but also to provide a great learning experience for ISU students as contributors to the quality of life in their college community,” Mary Ryder, alumni board member and project coordinator, said.
The materials cost approximately $5,000 and about $2,000 was set aside to benefit ISU’s Horticulture Club.
Kopsell said the labor donation will help cover the students’ cost for participating in the Professional Landcare Network’s career days and national landscape competition.
NCHS Principal David Bollmann said, “It was a wonderful experience, I think, for everybody. The ISU students got some learning, the alumni association was able to help and stay connected with our school, and then our school benefits from the completion of this project.”
In just a little over a week, Bollmann said a number of students have already used the wall.
“Not only from an appearance standpoint but a functionality standpoint it’s really added a wonderful element to our building.”
Senior horticulture major Alicia Bergman had a great experience working on the project with her classmates.
“I learned many different skills that I would never have been able to learn in a classroom. Once we were finished, it was a good feeling to see what we accomplished and to know it would be used for many years to come.”
“I really think the students benefit from that because they get the hands-on,” Kopsell said. “When I tell them what a wall block looks like or what a paver stone looks like, they don’t really grasp it until they actually hold onto it, and then I think it really sinks in.”
The NCHS project is a preliminary experience for the students’ final in which the students will go into a community and revamp another landscape, Kospell said.