Furniture and fire pits added to courtyard

Facilities coordinator encourages students to make full use


Macy Llewellyn

Once the weather cooperates, the new chairs and tables outside the Shiel Student Life Center will provide a place for students to gather before and after school and during lunch.

Known as a place for students to travel through on their way to class during passing periods, the new and improved courtyard is back to being able to be used for various activities. 

Changes include new furniture donated from Family Leisure, new grass and fire pits. Facilities and technology coordinator Mrs. Gara Schommer said, “New furniture (has been) added. It will be on the brick patio seating area out there. On nice days, anyone can go out there and eat.”

In previous years, students could connect with one another in the courtyard. There would often be students throwing a football during flex (remember flex?), eating with friends, sitting at the picnic tables and enjoying the space. Schommer said she thinks that students will be able to use the courtyard like this again. However, with the current academic schedule, flex is no longer an option. Now, students will utilize this area at different times. 

While flex will not be an opportunity for students to spend in the courtyard, Schommer suggests taking advantage of the addition to campus. She said, “Students can use it in the morning for breakfast. It will be really pretty there, and during your lunch time on nice days, you can go out there and use it. Also, after school.” 

Chief Operating Officer Mr. Rolly Landeros worked with various construction companies as well as school officials to plan and create new projects, such as the construction of the courtyard. He collaborated with CSO Design Company, Envoy Construction and Turf Dogs. The two construction companies helped design and carry out the ideas. Turf Dogs placed rolls and rolls of sod and maintains all landscaping on campus. 

Schommer describes this space not only as a place that students pass on their way to class, but as an “important place for students to come together.”

Junior Nya Huff has been chosen as a peer mentor for her senior year. Peer mentors are an important part of freshman year. They are there to guide the incoming class, and help them with the adjustment of high school. She said she is looking forward to being able to utilize the courtyard not only during her own time, but also with her peer mentor group. 

Huff said, “I’m excited for the courtyard to be finished because in my freshman year we were able to spend time out there. If it gets finished during my senior year, I’ll be able to take my peer mentor class out there and do work.” She notes the time that she spent in this space during her freshman year, and she hopes to do the same toward the end of junior year and start of senior year. 

During construction of the Innovation Center, there were many challenges, including timing the sprinklers, planting landscaping and adjusting to weather challenges. Schommer said, “CSO is the designer of the courtyard. Envoy is the construction company (and)  they are the ones who did all of the work, and Turf Dogs is who put in the sprinkler system.”

The courtyard is also receiving a new name, the Cross and Anchor Patio. This will be recognized with a flag acknowledging the donor and importance of the space. The creation of the name was a collaborative effort, in recognition of the changes made from how the campus was originally built. Schommer said, “We are going to put a flag up there to identify the patio area in the courtyard. We will acknowledge the name of it and who donated it.”

Presented as a new outdoor venue, the patio area will complete the construction of the Innovation Center. It was graciously donated by Family Leisure and Ms. Jennifer Eichler ‘96. Family Leisure has donated three rectangular tables with benches and stools, three fire pit tables with chairs, 10 rocking chairs and three trash cans. These additions were made to campus after students returned from winter break. 

Whether using the courtyard to get to class, studying or passing a football, the courtyard and the new furniture provide a positive addition to the campus. Schommer said, “Having this green space is very inviting and a nice look for the building. It is a really important space for our students to come together.”