The courtyard: a little dirt never hurt



Cracked and filled with weeds, the White Station grounds in 2018 looked nothing like the school’s current courtyard. The grounds were soon torn-up and replaced with trees, shrubs and engraved bricks.


tudent volunteers sweep the sidewalks, pick up plants and pull out invasive weeds. During the Spruce Up Sparta event, over 80 volunteers spent hours tidying up the school grounds.

June 2018, ground breaks as bulldozers tear up White Station’s inner grounds. This moment marked the beginning of a four-year process to create a community courtyard for the students of White Station. 

“[The courtyard] has not always been a place where students can be proud of,” Laurie Roberts, advisor for Spruce Up Sparta, said. 

The courtyard has come a long way from its cracked concrete and barren landscape. And now, clubs such as Spruce Up Sparta meet weekly with the goal of cleaning up and planting new species in the courtyard. However, over the summer, campus was left unattended due to the extremely hot temperatures, leading to a Spruce Up Sparta event to clean up the White Station campus. 

“I noticed the courtyard was looking very messy after summertime, and I was like ‘this needs to be cleaned up,’”  Morgan Johnson (12) said. 

On August 13, Spruce Up Sparta led an event to clean up the unruly invasive plants growing throughout the campus. Most of the volunteers were students, and after spending hours in the heat, most weeds were taken out and new planting-beds were mulched and re-sown. 

“There was a big difference before and after … it went from overgrown to pretty neat when we were done,” Johnson said. 

While some may think few students would wake up early on a Saturday morning to clean up the school’s grounds, over 80 students showed up to the Spruce Up Sparta event to help in whatever was needed.

“It’s inspirational as a teacher to see students spend their free time working to improve White Station,” Roberts said. “I mean it was Spruce Up Sparta! It was make [the school] look better … make it be a place that kids want to come to, or that they can be proud of.” 

Events like these not only keep the campus clean, but they also foster a community welcoming to all students and staff. 

“Because I teach [special education], sometimes I’m excluded from campus activities … when I get to do stuff like Spruce Up Sparta I get to be involved with all students,” Roberts said. “It makes [my students] feel as part of the community too.” 

Cleaning up the campus is not an easy job: students sit in the dirt to pull out weeds, others shovel dirt and weeds into trash buckets and some even stay behind to sweep all the sidewalks to keep them in pristine condition.

“Even though a lot of people aren’t really game for getting up early on a Saturday morning … I feel like it’s important to make sure your campus is kept clean,” Remington Brock (9) said. “It is on you to make sure your campus is beautiful.” 

Despite the early mornings and long hours it takes to maintain, a clean campus has a significant effect on how students, faculty and outsiders view the school. 

“If the campus is looking dirty … students aren’t going to care to keep the school looking clean … when the school looks clean, students feel a sense of pride,” Johnson said. 

Members and non-members of Spruce Up Sparta alike plan to continue their hard work throughout this year. Campus beautification not only serves as a volunteer opportunity for students, but also as a chance to connect and appreciate the school and the people within. 

“I hope that we can inspire people to join the club and help out our environment,” Brock said.