•  Student at a table in the Dust Devil Courtyard working on an assignment After a ribbon cutting ceremony involving teachers, students and the community, DeGrazia Elementary School is proud to showcase its renovated and redesigned courtyard in the heart of the school! Comprised of a new garden, covered classroom and turf areas, DeGrazia’s campus was revamped by generous volunteers using community donations of more than $22,000.  

    “The courtyard has transformed into a welcoming space for teachers and students to use no matter the subject or activity,” said Principal Tawnya Caldwell. “This was absolutely a community-wide effort that kept gaining momentum. Our school and our students are incredibly thankful for the generosity shown to beautify our campus.”  

    The heart of the courtyard is the outdoor classroom which was built under an existing shade structure. Lined with 15 red benches for students and a raised teaching station at the “front of the class,” teachers can bring their messy and traditional lessons outside.  A small turf pad sits behind the outdoor class where teachers can work with small groups of students.  

    The outdoor class is surrounded by white standing garden beds, planters, and two greenhouses. The garden beds allow students to enjoy and nurture a variety of plants, flowers and herbs.  

    Dust the Dust Devil wearing a COVID maskOur students have already embraced the plants. Many love watering them as a part of their day,” added Ms. Caldwell. “The garden beds and greenhouses will continue to be maintained by our gardening club, students and staff who are interested in the art of gardening.”  

    As part of a spring science unit, DeGrazia’s first grade teachers were awarded a lime tree so they planted it in the communal space. And tucked under shade trees, concrete benches with Southwest-inspired mosaic designs are being constructed by Ms. Rubio, a fourth grade teacher, and students in grades 4-6.  

    Not only was the courtyard built entirely on donations, but also through the hard work, commitment and time given by volunteers.  

    “On a weekend following spring break, Boy Scout Troop 211 and families from the PTO and school came and shoveled, wheel barrowed, and raked all of garden rocks into place,” said Ms. Caldwell.  “Mr. Weir, a staff member, worked after hours to assemble benches, tables, garden beds, lay the turf, and plant trees and bushes.”  

    Over the summer, finishing touches will be incorporated. Noah Burnett, a Mountain View High School student and Boy Scout looking to complete his Eagle Scout project, will fill in dirt pathways with a paved sensory path. The sensory path will be peppered with wood, rocks, sand, and different things for students to step on. A four inch concrete curb and handicap access will complete the final installation. 

    DeGrazia Elementary School thanks and celebrates our amazing teachers, staff, community partners, ambassadors and friends who made this incredible effort possible: 

    • 21st Century Grant Funding
    • Arizona School Tax Credit donors
    • Boy Scouts Troop 211
    • Concord Construction
    • Claire Bentley, PTO President
    • DeGrazia Elementary School PTO
    • DeGrazia First Grade Teachers: Ms. Marshall, Ms. Hessling and Ms. Suciu
    • Mr. Lopez, staff volunteer
    • Mr. Weir, staff volunteer
    • Ms. Rubio, teacher
    • Noah Burnett, MVHS student, and his father Mr. Burnett
    • STEM CAN Grants from the UHL Family Foundation