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School staffers cut the ribbon to officially open Ideal School's new sensory meditation garden. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

School staffers cut the ribbon to officially open Ideal School's new sensory meditation garden. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

Ideal School, Countryside cut ribbon on Sensory Meditation Garden

Ideal School Sign 5 21 21

By Carol McGowan

Countryside Mayor Sean McDermott, School District 105 officials and others that brought the school’s new sensory meditation garden to life were on hand May 207 for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Ideal School.

Ideal School Garden 4 5 20 21 1Ideal School Principal Eilidh Hall and teacher Kimberly Folkening each welcomed and thanked those on hand and gave recognition to several people for their part in donating time, money, and resources. Special thanks were given to McDermott, Vulcan Materials, Diaz Landscaping, CivilTech Engineering, Inc., Ideal PTO members and staff and teachers at the school.

The second-grade students of Mrs. Folkening and Mrs. Grosskopf came into the garden and sang a song for all the guests. They changed the words to a popular song to make it explain their happiness of not having to “stay inside” anymore in reference to the pandemic shutdown. They did a wonderful job and got a round of applause before heading back into class.

Ideal School Garden 6 5 20 21The school received grant money from the Illinois Education Association Foundation to plan and put the garden in place. The planning started last year, but was put on hold because of the pandemic shutdown in March. Teachers Folkening and Emily Swiatek submitted the grants to the foundation and Folkening worked with landscape arthitetct, John Magil of Civiltech Engineering, who came up with the plans with input from several students.

The school’s PTO was a big plus to the garden as they reached out to community partners in Countryside for additional funding that was needed. The entire project was brought to light by school staff, dedicated parents and the community.

The garden really came together over the last several months and will be used in a multitude of ways. Students will read in the beautiful area with birds chirping in the background, be able to take a sensory break, practice mindfulness or yoga, and even learn how to care for plants. The garden can even be looked at through a glass window hallway in the school while students pass through building.

Ideal School Vulcan check 5 20 21

Jose Marinez (from left) (Ideal School), Mayor Sean McDermott (City of Countryside), Jake Bartels (Vulcan Materials Co.), Eilidh Hall (principal), Mimi Yong (school social worker), Kimberly Folkening (teacher), Eric Bryant (District 105), Emily Swiatek (special education teacher)

Ideal School Garden big pic 5 20 21

Kathryn Heeke (from left) (District 105), Jose Marinez (Ideal School), Vikki Sicaras (Ideal PTO), Jake Bartels (Vulcan Materials Company), Emily Swiatek (Ideal School), Mayor Sean McDermott (City of Countryside), Elias Lopez (D105 Board President), Scott Musillami (Alderman), Eric Bryant (District 105), Eilidh Hall (Principal Ideal School), Mimi Yong (Ideal School), Kimberly Folkening (Ideal School), Jen Mindy (Assistant Principal Ideal School), Dr. Brian Ganan (D105 Superintendent), John Magill (CivilTech Engineering Inc), (Man standing in the back) Ernest Williams (CivilTech Engineering Inc.), Christopher Fernandez (Diaz Landscaping), Mike Folkening (CivilTech Engineering Inc), (Woman hidden in the back) Kyle Mishler (CivilTech Engineering Inc.).

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