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Tulsa Elementary School Garden To Grow Young Artists

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Volunteers build an art garden at McKinley Elementary in Tulsa. Volunteers build an art garden at McKinley Elementary in Tulsa.
The goal is a creative outdoor classroom for young artists. The goal is a creative outdoor classroom for young artists.
An art teacher got a grant for garden materials and artwork. An art teacher got a grant for garden materials and artwork.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

It's spring break week in Oklahoma. For many - it's a vacation from school. But at Tulsa's McKinley Elementary - it's a chance to build a more creative environment for students - who will have a surprise waiting for them when they come back. 

McKinley Elementary art teacher Dania Santiago has assembled a small army of volunteers - teachers, parents, friends and a few students - to build an art garden in the courtyard here at the school.

She applied for and got a grant from the Assistance League of Tulsa.

"Half was used for art materials for things like birdhouses, stepping stones and mosaics. The rest purchased lumber and supplies needed to create the garden.

They are building several raised beds for planting flowers and vegetables. While volunteers were figuring out how to put a raised bed kit together, a little friend brought me gift. 

Thank goodness it was just a worm; I can't do spiders.

The walls of the courtyard were covered with flowers and butterflies a few years ago, so you can see this idea has been percolating for some time.

"I want to have a place where the kids have real flowers for still lifes," said McKinley Elementary School art teacher Dania Santiago.

A couple of years ago Home Depot donated the gazebo. That was step one.

"Ever since this has been here, we have been gathering funds to make it a more functional outdoor classroom," Santiago said.

The grant from the Assistance League has really gotten the ball rolling. Her students have been making projects to display out there. When the art garden is finished, they hope to cultivate flowers and vegetables and young artists all here in the same space.

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