Gardening Club Brings Community Together to Brighten Up Butterfly Garden

When Hannah Buck and Abigail Strazisar came back to The Ellis School this fall for the start of their junior year, something caught their eyes: the school’s butterfly garden, which students worked on extensively just two years ago, already needed a lot of maintenance. So, the Gardening Club Co-Presidents decided to get to work.
The two put out a call for members and started telling classmates about the project, and the club quickly grew to about 20 members, advised by AP Computer Science Teacher and First Lego League Robotics advisor Leo Chen.

"This is a neat project because it’s entirely student-led,” Chen said. "They approached me about doing it, and they’re really motivated. They really want to put the 'Ellis touch’ on that space.”

The Gardening Club is one of the larger clubs at Ellis, and Hannah—who founded the club last year—is excited about the impact it could make.

"The butterfly garden is one of the only very floral areas around the school. There are a lot of trees, but this area is very focused on plants,” she said. "I feel like it could lead to bringing greater sustainability and help the natural environment around Ellis. Plants make everyone happy, and this is something everyone can see on their daily walk coming from their car.”

The Gardening Club has already done much work to remove dead plants and old signage from the butterfly garden. They reached out to local gardening businesses, which donated seeds and pots to the club, and the students plan to plant native wildflowers that will bloom each year.

"We want to create a very low-maintenance area and keep it easy for coming generations to take care of,” Hannah said.

In the spirit of Ellis’ pillars—especially being a positive community member—the Club has also worked to bring the Ellis community together to help with the project. They worked with first graders to paint “positivity rocks” that will decorate the garden, and the co-presidents are pleased that club membership spans all grades in the Upper School.

"It’s a very diverse group of people,” Abigail said. "We’re just trying to bring everyone together with something they can be proud of, and that they can say ‘We were part of that. I helped with that.’ Instead of just taking on the whole project ourselves, it’s fun to have a lot of different people working on something like that.”

They hope future projects will bring the community together even more. Next on their list is sprucing up the Upper School balconies with some planters that they can decorate and maintain throughout the year.

"It’s something we’re thinking about for after we have the butterfly garden sorted out,” Hannah said. “They’re just used by everyone in the Upper School and this is something we could do to help them be used even more and be more enjoyable to people.”

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