The legacy left by world famous artist Robert Bateman at the school that bears his name will continue as students in the Art Foundations program work to bring youth and nature together.
Throughout the past year, about 100 students at Robert Bateman Secondary have worked on a community garden, outdoor classroom and future green space with raised growing beds and seating areas on the west side of the campus.
Recent grad Natasha Beisel recalls how the space in question had old, rotting wooden benches and the dirt was so compacted water didn't drain anymore. Beisel worked on the project all of her Grade 12 year.
She and fellow students wanted to create a space where kids could come out on sunny days and spend time with friends.
"At the same time [students could] enjoy a comfortable welcoming space that also contributes to nature itself," she added.
Beisel's designs of the bench and path were chosen, and last spring the large L-shaped brick bench with inlaid tiles made by the students was erected by long-time mason Don Macbeth, who volunteered his time to work with the youths.
Beisel helped Macbeth dig holes and haul bricks that had been donated by the Clayburn Brick Factory.
"The legacy of the brick factory is adding to the legacy of the school," said art teacher and project coordiator, Sherry Dunn, who was thankful for Macbeth's 47 years of brick laying expertise.
"Without Don it wouldn't have happened."
The sculpture garden at the lower entrance to the school on the west side will encompass about 1,500 sq. feet and include several brick benches where students can sit, raised beds with indigenous plants, brick paths to replace the tromped down dirt and a dedicated outdoor classroom with permanent seating.
"It adds to the school and students can do their artwork out here and get the natural light," said Macbeth.
With one bench complete, the ongoing project will resume in the fall when students are back in school.
"The grey space is now green space," added Dunn, envisioning the future finished project.
"It's greening the campus."