Inside the windows of the courtyard


By Mackenzie Folkers, features editor 
Water gushed out from the waterfall in Prospect’s courtyard last year onto the fish swimming around in the pond below. The birds were chirping in the peaceful garden above the many types of flowers and plants that had been recently planted by Prospect’s Environmental Club.  In addition to the flowers and plants, the tall honey locust, Japanese maple, and magnolia trees can catch the eyes of anyone walking by the courtyard. The courtyard can be seen on any floor level in the middle of the square classroom block that was built with the school in 1957.
Although the school only puts in a couple hundred dollars a year according to Associate Principal Greg Minter, groups in the past and enviro club help make it peaceful and calming to look at and be in. With the recently added crushed gravel walkway from the door to the pond, it’s safer for the environment and easier for Enviro Club to get to the pond to feed the fish without getting too muddy. It’s also nicer for anyone who wants to enjoy the many daffodils, koi fish, goldfish, waterfall and other plants surrounding the pond.
“It is really quiet and calming,” sophomore Anna Murawski said, who went into the courtyard with Enviro Club last year.
If the courtyard was to open, the administration had talked about benches for people to be more comfortable in, but the idea was quickly rejected.
“We didn’t really think it was a great area for people to be moving in and out of,” Minter said.
Biology teacher Mollie David agrees that with all the classrooms around the courtyard it would be disruptive, but the environment inside the courtyard would pull her in.
“Being on the third floor, I might not [go in the courtyard if they opened it]. I bet if I was on the first floor and near [the courtyard], I would,” David said.
Although the original intention of the courtyard was for inside classrooms to have light, the purpose has expanded itself throughout the years. Now, in addition to being light for classrooms, it serves a duty of teaching students and a sense of inspiration according to David. Even though Enviro Club hasn’t gotten a chance to be out there since last year, they have used the courtyard for water testing and tree identification. Art classes, writing classes and biology classes all sometimes go out there for inspiration or a lesson, too.
“I thought being in the courtyard was kind of like being in a really large garden,” Murawski said.
Despite the lack of supervision and benches, biology teacher Ms. David thinks it’d be cool if the school could open the courtyard.
“I wish more students can go in there,” said David. “I think the problem is, [though], the supervision. I think it’d be great, but a teacher needs to be in there.”
Even though supervision is a top reason why the courtyard isn’t open, it could help one or many students’ mental health.
“It is really beautiful and I think people who like nature would really enjoy going in it,” said Murawski. “I think the courtyard would especially be good for people who need to relieve stress.”
In a study done by Dr. Marc Berman and other researchers at the University of Michigan, they found out that “performance on memory and attention tests improved by 20 percent after study subjects paused for a walk through an arboretum.”
“I’m seeing more and more kids say [that] they don’t want to be in the commons because it’s too loud,” school psychologist Dr. Jay Kyp-Johnson said. “It would be great if we had a required peaceful space. I know a lot of people would go in [to it].”
Despite the fact that the reasons why the courtyard is closed are understandable, the courtyard is a beautiful, peaceful place people love as soon as they walk into it.
“[Prospect has] the largest student population in the district,” Kyp-Johnson said. “[It’s] more crowded in the hallways so it’d be nicer to have [a] quieter, calmer space for people to inhabit.”
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