The courtyard, a place of Spartan pride



Students tend to the plants near the benches in the courtyard while other students leave to take a break after picking up trash or weeding various gardens. Either way, this leaves more garbage for the Spruce Up Sparta to pick up.


Ellen Tan (10), Anthony Nguyen (10) and other student volunteers work diligently with Spruce Up Sparta to help pick up trash wedged in a crevice within the courtyard.

Some called it the “prison yard,” others called it the “dead space.” For years, the space between the main building and east annex served as an eyesore to students and faculty. However, during the 2017-2018 school year, a group of parents decided to join forces and renovate this space into a green space.

Along with the help of these parents, former Vice Principal Carrye Holland began a fundraiser to conduct these renovations, ultimately raising over $500,000 to build what is known today as the courtyard.

“One of the things that we were trying to do is just have like spots on campus,” Holland said. “You’ll notice like the obstacle course out here, the garden, the courtyard. I really [wanted] the campus to be like a community spot.”

A school’s physical image impacts the students who learn there on a daily basis. More importantly, it affects the future of the school as well. Alumni are more likely to participate in events at the school if they feel welcomed, and the courtyard is designed to do just that.

“[I want a] gathering place where the … alumni … come back,” Holland said.

Alumni donated a significant portion of the funding for the courtyard project. Alumni can also impact how much money the school receives based on whether they send their future children to the school. 

“Phase one was raised by alumni … people just gave money a little bit here, a little bit there,” Holland said. “Some people gave more … alumni classes gave money … in honor of certain alumni or teachers.” Future plans hope to dedicate a new library and stem building to one of White Station’s most honored librarians, Irma Roberts, who is almost 103 years old. 

Although the courtyard is complete, a lot of work is still needed to keep it maintained. Clubs such as Spruce Up Sparta have formed to take on this work with the help of volunteers.

“The whole purpose of the [courtyard’s cleaning] was to make our campus more presentable to people,” Sebastian Camacaro (10) said. “If you’re going there every single day you would want it to look pretty.”

Spruce Up Sparta meets weekly to discuss the best ways to attack the messes around the courtyard and strategies to maintain the gardens free of weeds. Because students are allowed to eat lunch in the courtyard, volunteers will often find trash hidden between bushes, as well as in the gardens.

During lunch people end up leaving trash,” Camacaro said. “ Just contributing to pick it up [is what some are assigned to do].”

Unfortunately, the smaller after-school meetings are not enough to maintain the campus. Corrie Metcalf, the parent in charge of the club, explains how much effort and volunteers are needed to maintain the courtyard clean.

“For the courtyard [cleaning days], we have had as many as 50 people [come],” Metcalf said. “On a Spruce Up Sparta Saturday like this last one, we have 80 people, but I have had as many as 100 people … and I need about five other parents who are in charge and know what they are doing.” 

Volunteers are often encouraged to join in on these events, even if they have no experience with the club or with gardening. While volunteers gain volunteer hours when they attend these events, they also help foster Spartan pride among students and faculty in their school. 

I just feel like people are more drawn to be outside when there’s an actual place for them,” said Holland.

Large amounts of trash are found hidden among the ditches within the courtyard after lunch. Students from the Spruce Up Sparta work together to clean these spaces. (CORRIE METCALF//USED WITH PERMISSION)