A bit less blacktop and a bit more garden in the works, now, at Woodmere Elementary School

DAVID F. ASHTON - Dozens of volunteer show up at Woodmere Elementary School to de-pave an area that will become a natural play area and extension of their schools garden program. In two areas behind Woodmere Elementary School, where once there was black-tarred asphalt, there are now spaces where living plants will grow -- thanks to a cadre of volunteers that turned out for an event by the nonprofit "Depave" on Saturday, July 8.

"I stumbled upon the 'Depave' organization online – and soon, other members of our group mentioned the idea of taking out some pavement at our school," explained Woodmere Garden Committee member, and parent-volunteer, Erin Seitz.

"Then, we learned from the President of the Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood Association at the time that 'Depave' was looking to do a project here, because their project manager lives here in our neighborhood," Seitz said.

So, in less than a week the group went from "Maybe let's do this" to getting onto the 2017 Depave summer project list.

"Today, we've opened a space on the east side where we can plant a large tree; and on the west side, we can create a natural play area to bring focus to the school garden that is tucked behind the portable classrooms, and isn't really visible," Seitz told THE BEE.

Neighbor and Depave Project and Volunteer Coordinator Tim Batog looked pleased to see the strong turnout of volunteers – all busy ripping up pavement. "This is a great way to bring the community together here in my neighborhood; and, because I live in Brentwood-Darlington, this is my favorite project of the year!"

Woodmere Elementary School Principal Katherine Polizos wasn't simply standing by and watching the buzz of activity at her school; she was busy lifting and wheeling broken chunks of pavement to the Heiberg Garbage dropboxes.

"I'm super excited! Seeing all these people come to help out is really heartwarming," Polizos remarked, as she stopped toiling for a moment. "We're fortunate to have such an amazing community here. Everything we've done this year, our turnout of families is been just huge. Anytime we need help, there are always people who show up!"

The Principal pointed out that inasmuch as Woodmere is a Title 1 school, there are many families living in poverty in the area they serve. "We have an amazing SMART program with 10 volunteers, three days a week, coming in to read with kids.

"For a school this small to have this many people show up out of love and caring for the neighborhood and their environment – it's truly wonderful."

To learn more about Woodmere, go online –

And for more information about the Depave organization, visit their website –

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