School recognized for green efforts

COSTA MESA — Davis Magnet School celebrated its recognition from the city for its learning garden by inviting students and parents to an event Friday morning at the Flag Deck.

The K-6 math, technology and science magnet school was recognized by the Costa Mesa Planning Commission with a Mesa Green Design Award on April 11 — as were several local businesses — for successfully implementing green projects and practices.

Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick presented the awards to Principal Kevin Rafferty, kindergarten teacher James Christman and "eco-mom" Lisa Manfredi, who were instrumental in getting the community garden up and running. (They had previously received the awards at City Hall).

It wasn't just the garden that caught the eye of the commission, but the school's six composting bins, advanced lunchtime recycling programs and "Waste-Free Wednesdays" activities, Fitzpatrick said.

"We're proud of the accomplishments of Davis Magnet School in general," he said.

Manfredi said the idea for a garden began in September 2010 with Christman, who also started a garden at Paularino Elementary School in Costa Mesa.

By May, a rectangle of grass in the school's quad was replaced with a thematic learning garden that features separate beds for each grade.

"The kids love it, and anytime a kid has a chance to get his or her hands dirty, it's a great day," Rafferty said. "So to be actually able to get into the dirt and plant seeds and work with the actual soil … it's a wonderful thing."

Each bed has a separate theme related to the curriculum, with the fourth-grade bed blooming with California-native plants and the second-grade bed featuring plantlife that attracts bugs, birds and butterflies.

"There's actually math and science going on in the garden," Manfredi said.

The garden is just phase one, Rafferty added, saying they want to turn the entire quad into a garden, with a gazebo for outdoor classes and solar or wind energy sources for scientific measurements.

"The possibilities out there are endless," he said.

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