501 3c Organization

Riverwood Foundation awarded a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant

With a generous donation from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program, the Riverwood International Charter School Foundation will create an outdoor classroom and garden. The new outdoor space will benefit a cross-section of programs and students, and the community at large. The $5,000 grant is for a cooperative, student-led garden. The planning group includes students from Environmental Science, Engineering, and Culinary Arts classes. A major goal is to include meaningful participation from not only the Science, Engineering, and Culinary students, but also the Community Based Instruction (CBI) students as well as members of the Recycling Club.    

The students’ vision for the outdoor garden and classroom includes raised beds, retaining walls, a small orchard, a pollinator garden, herbs and annuals, a composting area, a walking path, and areas for small group discussions and collaboration. The Environmental Science students will explore soil systems, human population carrying capacity, biodiversity, and conservation. Engineering students will address soil management, erosion, and harvesting methods. Culinary Arts classes will use the edible forest to practice and understand sustainability and farm to table cuisine. The CBI students will gain life and job skills training, while experiencing hands-on STEM studies and working side-by-side with their peers. The Recycling Club plans to compost coffee, shredded paper, and food waste to reduce the school’s solid waste stream.

Due to construction of new facilities at Riverwood, the previous outdoor garden closed in 2015. The Lowe’s grant allows Riverwood to create an even better outdoor learning environment that will connect even more disciplines and learning methods. Students also plan to share the bounty of their garden with the local Sandy Springs community by providing seasonal vegetables to elementary students attending the Sandy Springs Mission’s after school tutoring program.

Says Science Department Chair Patricia Lawrimore, “Permaculture (trees, bushes etc) is the way of the future when you have an urban environment. This space will help these students understand where their food comes from and how easy it is (with proper planning) to supply food without all of the environmental costs associated with industrialized farming, transporting that food, and processing. Riverwood will continue to reduce its ecological footprint while teaching how to live more sustainably in an urban environment.”  

This new garden area is designed to scale-up in size as the program grows. The plan is to add more active beds and create access to even more curriculums over time. Instruction will eventually tackle topics such as how to prune fruit trees to maximize harvest and how to maximize herb growth. Students will examine questions like “will a polyculture site produce more than a monoculture site?” or “what watering system is best for different crops and the environment (drip, soakers, aerial sprayers) while maintaining economic efficiency?” Eventually, the space will support lessons on solar panels, windmills for pumps, and on how to maximize harvest with organic/inorganic mix soil supplements.

Principal Chuck Gardner added, “We are excited about providing our students with real world learning opportunities. This project will allow us to create an interdisciplinary learning experience involving our science department, engineering program, and culinary arts program.  We thank our community partners at Lowe’s for generously supporting this project.”

Riverwood is a comprehensive high school and the site of Fulton County’s International Studies Magnet Program. Riverwood is the only Fulton County school offering both the International Baccalaureate Diploma and Middle Years Programs. This prestigious college prep institution prides itself on having a diverse, talented student and faculty body. One of the unique features of this school is that almost 90% of the students who graduate from Riverwood go on to a wide array of colleges and universities. In addition, students are regularly awarded Georgia HOPE Scholarships and rank among the highest achievers in the nation on the SAT and ACT.

Since its inception in 2005, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education has provided more than $45 million in grants to more than 10,000 schools, benefiting more than 6 million schoolchildren. All K-12 public schools in the United States are eligible for the Toolbox for Education program. More information is available at www.ToolboxforEducation.com.


Photo 1:  Ground-Breaking from Left to Right:  Chef ElissaOliver, Julia Dias, Science Department Chair Patricia Lawrimore, Leslie Tornez-Cruz, Principal Charles Gardner, Lowe’s Store Manager Ezekiel Adenekan, Morgan Finch, Ryan Belfi, Maeve Munson, Brenna Munson, Sara Eve Caruthers, Environmental Science Teacher Issac Seals

Photo 2:  Lowe’s Sandy Springs Store Manager Ezekiel Adenekan and Science Department Chair Patricia Lawrimore review the space and plans for the outdoor classroom and garden.

Photo 3:  Riverwood International Charter School Students signed a thank you banner to present to Lowe’s from Left to Right: Dr. Napoleon BoneApart, Ansley Sweetin, Bryan Thielen, Mikaela Johnson, Charlie Woodman, Justin Miller, Molly Antebi, Mia Raider, Brian Smith, Jacob Vayle, Tony Su, Alex Lipsky, Bailey Purhmann, Bradley Niecamp, Fraysen Wynens

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