Hopewell school will be adding a new learning space for students

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Hopewell Elementary School is creating an outdoor reflection and learning area on school grounds for students come next spring.

Part of the project will be converting some of its existing lawn space to a native wildflower meadow.

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Officials from Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS) are helping school officials with land stewardship guidance and fundraising for the project.

FoHVOS ‘s mission is to conserve and enhance the Hopewell Valley environment.

“Hopewell Elementary is part of our overall community conservation initiative. We are going to be getting this started next spring,” said Mike Van Clef, FoHVOS stewardship director.

Van Clef will oversee the project to ensure healthy ecological choices and tie in native plant selections from both the previous parkland restoration projects and the recent Timberlane Middle School Bio-retention Rain Garden.

He said at minimum there will be hundreds of native plants planted for the project.

“We will have a variety of wildflowers and different types of pollinators including hummingbirds,” Van Clef said. “I assume that come next spring this will be a one-day planting event that involves others from the community. The plants, I would say, would go into the ground while students are still in school.”

According to officials, the learning area will feature a pollinator corridor to Hopewell Borough Park.

“The idea generally is to create a pollinator habitat. It is creating habitats for pollinators, which is something we greatly depend on,” Van Clef said. “The lands are connected to each other from the school to Hopewell Borough Park. We are creating a connection between them by creating natural habitats as a connecting pathway.”

Hopewell Elementary School STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Facilitator Helen Corveleyn said the school’s vision for the outdoor reflection area was to provide an ecologically sound and peaceful space for learning and relaxing.

“We wanted to tie it together with native flowers students saw playing at the park as children and help them identify those they’ll see when the move on to Timberlane Middle School,” Corveleyn said.

For David Friedrich, the Hopewell Elementary School principal, the project was also a priority for the school to give something back to nature and the community.

“By converting lawn space to native grasses and wildflowers, we improve the land and water by reducing erosion and runoff. This green initiative supports our school district’s environmental priorities and models actions we encourage for our students,” Friedrich said.

According to officials, FoHVOS has already begun fundraising for the learning space by applying for a Hopewell Harvest Fair grant. The grant program distributes small grants to local non-profit organizations. FoHVOS officials will also be directing all proceeds from their upcoming Oct. 26 art and nature family Art Sparks family workshop to the project.

“We are going to be collecting some leaves from one of our preserves and then make an art project out of them,” Van Clef said.

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