Students at Westport Heights Elementary School in Westchester are now able to combine practical, hands-on lessons with classwork after the opening of their new learning garden, which was unveiled in a ceremony at the school on December 8th.

Parents, teachers and the school’s administrators joined representatives from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) at the ribbon cutting ceremony, which was performed by Westport Heights’ principal, Karen Long.

“In order for anything to grow, it takes love,” Long told the audience prior to cutting the ribbon.

Each classroom will adopt one of the 26 plots.

“The students will do their own digging, planting and watering,” said Long.

The grant to build the garden was obtained from the Public Works Department last year, Long said.

Westport Heights in one of five schools in Westchester that has opted to join the iDesign Division of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The division will be responsible for implementing autonomy within the school district, which will give parents, teachers and administrators more localized control over how they would like to see their children educated.

Representatives from L.A. Unified and Loyola Marymount University were also in attendance. LMU is assisting the Westchester schools in setting up governance councils, which will take on the day-to-day functions of a school board, including budgets, choosing principals and devising new and innovative curriculum supplements, like the learning garden.

Students will be able to grow vegetables in the garden, and there will be a butterfly sanctuary as well, dedicated to former Westport Heights teacher Margaret Mitchell, said Long.

Next to the garden is an area where students and teachers can utilize for classroom study outdoors.

“It was a labor of love to bring this outdoor classroom to Westport Heights,” said Long.