The Peace Garden at The Rise School in East Point, GA

Transforming the physical space for the school that is creating scholars who are catalysts for social change

The Rise School is a free public charter grammar and college preparatory school serving predominantly African America youth who experience poverty and trauma.  The school’s mission is to provide a rigorous and holistic education that develops the minds and character of scholars to be catalysts for social change.

The physical space at Rise was burdened with a large, extremely unsafe and unsightly pond in its interior central courtyard that was visible from every hallway.  The space surrounding the pond was boggy, sloped and overgrown with weeds.  Trellis was asked to create a peace garden that would function as an outdoor classroom for learning first-hand about plants, birds, insects and taking care of the earth.  Additionally, the space would be designed for quiet reflection to include group seating areas for both students and staff, and function as a common space for hosting school and community events.

The project seemed initially daunting; however Trellis saw the incredible potential that the space held for the school – a true asset.   As the project moved forward with construction of decking above the wet soil and a complete transformation of the pond into a safe, waterless rock garden, with a bubbling water feature. Trellis began to explore the inclusion of art elements into the space.  With a tight project budget, Trellis reached out to local businesses and artisans for donations of landscaping materials, garden benches, metal garden art pieces, and a custom wall mural.  In total, Trellis received $2,500 in donated goods and materials and provided close to 50 volunteer hours for the project.

Despite the challenges, the Rise School Peace Garden is a combined vibrant yet tranquil, functional space for the school community to enjoy.