Wilmette, News

Wilmette Junior High gets ‘breath of fresh air’ amid ‘chaotic time’

The courtyards at Wilmette Junior High had become less refuge and more refuse.

Overgrown plants, weeds and vines overwhelmed the two spaces, so much so one of the was unusable.

Rehabbing the outdoor sanctuaries had been on the wishlist of Wilmette District 39 and parent-teacher organization for years. But the expensive project had yet to fit in the budget.

With the onset of COVID-19, outdoor resources became a priority, and WJH parents stepped up to the plate, raising the green ($49,000) to raze the green.

A before photo of Wilmette Junior High’s large courtyard. | Photo Submitted

The overhaul took just a few weeks to complete and district and community leaders gathered in the renewed spaces to celebrate the project’s completion on Monday, Oct. 18, at Wilmette Junior High.

“We see these courtyards as a place to learn, connect, laugh, grow, talk, move, read, take a mask break, support students and staff who may need a quiet place, or for a cut through in a 2-minute passing period,” said Casey Brown, WJH PTO president, during the ceremony.

The new courtyards feature brick-paver walkways and gathering spaces — for outdoor learning or group respite — surrounded and canopied by verdant vegetation.

Encircled Adirondack chairs help define meeting areas amid the greenery.

“This is a breath of fresh air,” WJH Principal Kate Dominique said. “It’s a peaceful space in the midst of a really chaotic time.”

WJH PTO officers and WJH Principal Kate Dominique (third from right) cut the ribbon on the rejuvenated courtyard.

District 39 contributed $1,000 to the project, and district parents collected the remaining funds to make it happen, Brown wrote in a message shared with The Record.

The project was designed and completed by landscape designer Matt Sokolowske and Landscape Concepts Management, of Grayslake.

“Mental health and social emotional support has become an even more important focus, especially in the junior high, as we attempt to transition back to a new normal and we’re excited to share news of this exciting project with the community,” Brown wrote.

D39 Superintendent Kari Cremascoli was on hand Monday, Oct. 18, shared some words and thanked the PTO. Village President Senta Plunkett as well as other school officials were also present.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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