Drumragh Integrated College Students Enjoy New Social Garden
Three years ago, staff and students at Drumragh Integrated College lost a much loved and treasured friend, colleague, and teacher. Now thanks to a newly built communal space at the college the memory of popular English teacher Graham Peters will continue to inspire students.
Business studies teacher, Grant Garden, who led the project said, “The idea was to create a pleasant, vibrant area for our young people to enjoy and continue to find inspiration from Mr Peters. Through his quotes, future pupils who weren’t fortunate enough to have been taught by him can still draw inspiration from his words for many years to come.” The school had planned several fundraising initiatives to collect the funds needed to build the garden which was designed by artist and teacher Gerry Bradley. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus and lockdown, these all had to be cancelled.
‘When I realised that our proposed school-based fundraising activities were shelved for the forseeable future I wasn’t really ready to have the project shelved for any longer, we needed to get it moving.’
The lockdown period inspired many creative outlets for music and the arts, and Gerry thought of an idea that could help raise funds despite the restrictions imposed. He explains,’
‘My son, Oscar is a filmmaker, so I picked his brain on the idea of all staff collaborating on a song, he assured me that it would be no problem for him to manage the technical side - editing, sound managing etc and more importantly he convinced me that it would be a success. Oscar is a former student of Drumragh and is aware of the high regard that students would have had for Graham, he felt confident that past students would be more than happy to contribute.’
Gerry took the idea to Project Manager, Grant Garden - Head of Business at Drumragh. The proposal was approved by the Board of Governors and a Just Giving campaign was launched with a video of the Drumragh College staff remotely singing popular Beatles hit ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’.
Omagh based Spring Landscapes, a regular and valued customer at our CED Stone Landscape - Omagh Depot, was contracted to build the garden. The initial design featured traditional stone paving, however, on meeting with the landscaper this changed.
‘When I met our landscaping expert Austin Shortt, he introduced me to the Daltex Resin product, which immediately triggered some new and more complex design options.’
Designed to be a socially interactive area featuring benches and clusters of single seats. At the centre of the garden stands an Oak tree which represents the life force that radiates out to all corners of our school. The ray formations in the resin-bound groundworks represent the spread of positive energy. Bright and colourful Merlot and Cornfield DALTEX Resin mixes were chosen to give the garden colour and an uplifting mood.
The groundworks also feature a quote, ‘You’re not leaving til I see you smile’. One of Mr Peter’s favourite sayings, it demonstrates his warmth, caring and wit. Made from ceramic the original plan was for local ceramic artist
Diane McCormick to conduct workshops at the school for students to help make the letters for the quote. Sadly, lockdown put an end to that idea and Diane made the letters solo in her studio.
Another fitting tribute in the garden is a replica of Mr Peters’ ‘Cool Wall’ which the school preserved from his class. The ‘cool wall’ was a concept Mr Peters borrowed from TV programme Top Gear. The wall had three categories of ‘coolness’ - Cool, Very Cool or Sub-Zero. Students would bring in a picture of a celebrity and the entire class would take part in a debate eventually coming to an agreement on which category the celebrity belonged.
The original cool wall which was a display board was photographed and processed onto ceramic tiles with the addition of some of Mr Peters’ doodles and some words from the staff who were asked for a single word that summed up Mr Peters. These words are a testament to his character and just how much he was respected and admired.
‘Innovative, supportive, passionate, gentleman, charismatic, kind, inspirational, friend, quirky, doodler, missed’
Patricia Conlin, the Art department technician and Graphic Designer must be commended on her work in preparing the design layout and graphics for the Cool Wall.
The garden is now complete and is being used by both staff and students after a long and challenging break from school as a place to socialize and reflect. Gerry comments,
‘The garden has worked out really well, we had a great team working on it and it has been so well received by staff and students. As one colleague said just this week, ‘Every time I pass it I smile’.
James Kane, Manager at CED Stone Landscape - Omagh Depot states,
‘We are very proud to have our products feature so creatively in this project, a most thoughtful tribute to a man who was so beloved by all at the College’
Although the Just Giving page did achieve its target, there is still a deficit with the school hope to clear. If you would like to contribute, you can do so here.