Ready for rain

Ch­e­sa­peake City El­e­men­tary un­veils rain gar­den



— Clear skies greeted stu­dents as they filed out of Ch­e­sa­peake City El­e­men­tary School into the June heat on Wed­nes­day, tak­ing a seat on the asphalt near the play­ground.

The blue sky was a wel­come re­prieve from the re-


cent rain, and the black­top gave no sign of last week’s del­uge, some­thing that was only pos­si­ble be­cause of one thing: the school’s new rain gar­den.

“Right now, you’d be sit­ting in wa­ter,” Dave Hast­ings, the school’s as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal, told the stu­dents. “With all the rain we had last week, this would be wa­ter and you would be sit­ting in it if we had this assem­bly a year ago.”

Though the rain gar­den was of­fi­cially ded­i­cated on

Wed­nes­day, it was orig­i­nally in­stalled in Oc­to­ber thanks to a part­ner­ship among the school, the county, area busi­nesses and mem­bers of the Wa­ter­shed Stew­ards Acad­emy, a pro­gram that works to ed­u­cate and em­power res­i­dents to im­prove the wa­ter qual­ity of lo­cal streams and re­duce the harm­ful ef­fects of pol­luted stormwa­ter runoff.

Funded in part by a $2,218 grant from the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Trust, the rain gar­den is de­signed to im­prove fil­tra­tion and re­duce the amount of sed­i­ment and pol­luted stormwa­ter runoff that flows into the Ch­e­sa­peake City Basin and the Bohemia River. The gar­den will also ad­dress a long­stand­ing drainage is­sue at the school.

Chuck Fos­ter, a WSA member who along with Joe Kline and Joanna Healey in­stalled the project as part of their cap­stone project, spoke at the ded­i­ca­tion and ex­plained to the stu­dents how the rain gar­den works.

To cre­ate the rain gar­den, com­mu­nity vol­un­teers had some help from ex­ca­va­tors to dig a trench that was 80feet long, 5-feet wide and 3-feet deep, Fos­ter said. The bot­tom was filled with rocks and a length of per­fo­rated pipe. On top of that are lay­ers of pea gravel, dirt and mulch. Stu­dents fin­ished off the gar­den by plant­ing more than 400 na­tive plants in the gar­den.

Fos­ter also ex­plained to stu­dents that while it’s OK to call it a rain gar­den, there’s also a fancier name for the project.

“We could call it a rain gar­den, but mi­cro-biore­ten­tion is more fun to say,” Fos­ter said, draw­ing laugh­ter as he slowly stretched out the tech­ni­cal term.

Many of the stu­dents may have al­ready been fa­mil­iar with how the rain gar­den works. The school has been in­cor­po­rat­ing lessons about the rain gar­den into its cur­ricu­lum and dur­ing the ded­i­ca­tion, third-grade stu­dents talked about how their class in­ves­ti­gated what types of soil ab­sorb wa­ter best. Other stu­dents also shared their ex­pe­ri­ence help­ing build the rain gar­den and thanked ev­ery­one who had come to­gether to make it pos­si­ble.

Fol­low­ing the cer­e­mo­nial rib­bon cut­ting, Hast­ings and Fos­ter brought out their guitars to play “Slow It Down,” a song Fos­ter wrote about wa­ter­sheds. As the two played, stu­dents who had helped with the orig­i­nal in­stal­la­tion of the gar­den came for­ward to plant a few final na­tive plants.

Though the gar­den has been in place for many months now, Fos­ter said af­ter the cer­e­mony that it still felt good to of­fi­cially ded­i­cate the rain gar­den. The CCES rain gar­den was the first ma­jor in-ground project for Friends of the Bohemia, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that ad­vo­cates for and raises aware­ness about the con­di­tion of the Bohemia River. Fos­ter serves as the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pres­i­dent and said the group has a lot more planned in the up­com­ing months.

Many of those plans will start to be for­mu­lated at 6 p.m. Mon­day at the Ch­e­sa­peake City Branch Li­brary with the re­lease of a wa­ter­shed as­sess­ment of the Bohemia River, Lower Elk and Back Creek that the county com­mis­sioned last year. That study will help the or­ga­ni­za­tion fig­ure out where best to fo­cus its ef­forts go­ing for- ward, Fos­ter said.

But re­gard­less of the results of the study, Fos­ter said talk­ing to kids, like those at Ch­e­sa­peake City El­e­men­tary School, and the com­mu­nity about the wa­ter­shed will re­main a top pri­or­ity for Friends of the Bohemia.

“We want to make con­nec­tions with our com­mu­nity and how do we do that? Kids are an ideal route into the com­mu­nity,” he said. “If we can reach them young, they’re the fu­ture.”


Joanna Healey, a Wa­ter­shed Stew­ards Acad­emy grad­u­ate who helped lead the in­stal­la­tion of a rain gar­den at Ch­e­sa­peake City El­e­men­tary School, in­structs stu­dents on where to plant na­tive plants.


Chuck Fos­ter, pres­i­dent of Friends of the Bohemia, speaks to Ch­e­sa­peake City El­e­men­tary School stu­dents dur­ing the ded­i­ca­tion of the school’s rain gar­den.


Ch­e­sa­peake City El­e­men­tary School stu­dents per­form a song dur­ing the school’s rain gar­den ded­i­ca­tion.


Ch­e­sa­peake City El­e­men­tary School prin­ci­pal Alan Lo­man and Alan McCarthy, Ce­cil County Coun­cil vice pres­i­dent, cut the rib­bon for the school’s rain gar­den.


A member of the Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s of­fice uses his pa­trol car to help an­chor crime scene tape at West End Gar­dens Thurs­day af­ter­noon, where Elk­ton Po­lice in­ves­ti­gated one of two shoot­ings.

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