Two Union Elementary School custodians have made it difficult for students to stay in their classrooms. A weed-infested alcove area at the school caught the attention of Danielle Krupa and Eddie Dean last fall. The area had a butterfly-shaped brick planting area but instead of flowers being planted in it there were weeds, and the bushes needed trimming.

“When I came in February I noticed it and you could tell we needed something there,” interim principal Kelly Dellinger said. “Danielle and Eddie came to me with ideas and I told them to run with it.”

The transformation occurred and the butterfly-shaped planter is now full of butterfly-attracting plants including coneflowers, flock, peppermint, parsley, lavender, pansies, marigolds, petunias, pineapple sage and many others. Dean made a garden kaleidoscope, which consists of a planter that spins providing the color to be viewed with the kaleidoscope.

“The kids really enjoy it,” Dean said. “When we finished it, the first graders all lined up to look through it.”

Krupa got a bughouse that the students have used to raise up ladybugs and butterflies to learn about the lifecycle of insects. Dean installed a rain barrel, which not only is used to water the flowers but also serves as a lesson in water conservation. There are tropical fish living in the barrel to help keep the mosquito larvae down and provide fertilizer for the plants.

“It’s a treat for the students to be able to go out there,” Dellinger said. “I’ll often take students out here when we have to have a talk.”

Dean has worked for Union for three years and Krupa for 12 years. Now that the garden has been installed, they are working on beautifying the flowerbeds in front of the school.

“We’ve got future plans too but they’re secret for now,” Dean said. “We wanted to do a gift for the school because the school’s been good to us. We also wanted to do something for the kids.”

Krupa and Dean were given INNOVATOR Awards for their work at Union Elementary School at the last Lincoln County Schools Board of Education meeting.

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