For a group of students taking a semester-long landscape design elective at Bridgehampton High School, what started as a class project may soon leave a much larger mark on the school’s campus.
Tasked with creating designs for a paved walkway with surrounding landscaping leading from the street to the school’s front doors, the students got to work on their own individual concepts. Some relied on triangular, square or semicircular patterns, with straight or curved pathways leading up to the school. They added a variety of shrubbery, flowers and trees, including native plants and some that would provide blooms from spring through fall. Some designs featured benches and tables. They all emphasized safety as a goal.
The class presented their designs to Bridgehampton’s school board in late January. The board members liked the concepts so much they decided they would pick their favorite features from each student’s design and combine them into a plan to most likely be installed in front of the school over the summer.
“They were great,” said Robert Hauser, Bridgehampton’s incoming superintendent, who also oversees the school facilities. He said he will take the designs to the district’s Facilities Committee after the school board is finished reviewing them. “We’re going to fine-tune these student ideas and then make a recommendation to the board as a committee as to what we feel is best,” Mr. Hauser said.
Bridgehampton senior Amoy Webley, who is interested in engineering as a career, said she learned more about design, proportion and budgeting through the project.
“It was a fun experience because we got to do hands-on work,” she said.
Senior Danny Gutierrez agreed.
“I got to express more of myself in this class,” he said. “I was free to do what I wanted on my project. I didn’t have to have a teacher telling me what they wanted.”
The recognition from the school board was meaningful to the students.
“It felt good,” Amoy said. “I didn’t have that much confidence in my design, but then one of the board members took a liking to it. It felt good to know someone appreciated what I did.”
Jalisa Hopson, a junior, said the landscaping project was a lot of work. Not only did the students start with pencils, paper and actual drafting tools like t-squares and compasses, but then they actually had to learn three-dimensional drafting software, and they even took a field trip to the Bronx Botanical Garden for inspiration.
“It was definitely different from what I’m used to,” Jalisa said.
Danny added, “I didn’t think I had it in me to do a design from scratch.”
Senior Patricia Figueroa, who was inspired by her grandmother’s garden in Ecuador and named her project “Rosa’s Garden” in her honor, called the landscaping project “an amazing initiative for all of us.”
“I think they respected our design choices and how confident we were to put ourselves out there and present our ideas, which were pretty elaborate,” Patricia said.
She said she took the landscape design class “to see if I could find an interest that I didn’t look for when I was younger.” But she got more than she bargained for.
“Up until this year, I felt like I was surrounded by the same group of people in my classes,” she said. “Now I’m surrounded by new people. I was able to learn about this cool thing with people that I got to know and like a lot.”
Their teacher, Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, said the class was not only career-oriented but also interdisciplinary, combining subjects like math and art. She said the class emphasized “strong relationships in whatever you’re doing.”
“There’s no right or wrong,” she said. “There’s good or bad design, in a way, but you can have different interpretations of a solution. And even if you don’t become a landscape designer, it’s a useful skill to have in your home and in your life.”