Special History Behind Vickery Elementary's New Rock Garden
Nearly two years ago, on May 21, 2019, two LISD schools became a family. As the 2018-19 school year wound down, Vickery Elementary hosted a welcome event for Hedrick Elementary students and staff. With Hedrick’s impending retirement and the students set to attend Vickery the following August, the event served as the best opportunity to introduce students to their new school before summer break.
“I remember the excitement that we felt all across the building,” Vickery Principal Adam Gray said, reflecting back on the day. “Even though welcoming more than 300 students and 30 staff members was a huge task, we were all so eager to get it right.”
Wanting the new students and staff to feel comfortable and part of the Voyager family, Vickery greeted their Hedrick friends with signs and banners, and planned tours and activities for all to enjoy.
“Kids are easier than adults—it doesn’t take much to begin a friendship,” Gray said. “So we tried to tailor activities that day that all of our students could take part in.”
From the archives: Hedrick and Vickery students paint rocks together at the 2019 welcome event.
One of the activities that day was painting rocks. At the time, Vickery didn’t have immediate plans for the rocks the students painted together, but held onto the rocks, storing them in bins for safe keeping. Fast forward to 2021.
“We knew we wanted to do something with the product of all that team building, we just weren’t sure what,” Gray said. “We asked the excellent LISD Grounds Department and Jeff St. Romain came out and brainstormed with us.”
The idea? A rock garden. Vickery already had the raised garden beds and the beds would serve as the perfect spot for all of the students’ painted rocks. St. Romain sent over employees to help clean the garden area out, which is located on the southwest side of the school, as well as provided crushed gravel for the beds. Rockpointe Church, one of Vickery’s local partners, also found high school volunteers from Denton Calvary Academy to paint the beds for the campus.
“They came the day before and painted the entire structure blue and green, the Vickery colors,” Gray said.
The Voyagers’ rock garden was also given a name. It’s now affectionately and appropriately called “The Asteroid Belt.”
Once the high schoolers were finished painting, the beds were ready for rocks. On March 5, two of Alyssa Koch’s third-grade classes took a trip outside to lay down the rocks they had painted as first graders. Koch’s students' eyes lit up as they gathered around The Asteroid Belt. Before they got to work, Gray shared the history of the rocks and asked the students if they remembered painting them. Many of the students nodded in agreement. He then asked the students two questions. Students were asked to raise a hand if they had attended Hedrick and then asked to raise a hand if they have always attended Vickery. The response was nearly 50/50.
“At first it was hard not to think of a student or teacher as being ‘Hedrick’ or ‘Vickery’, but honestly it doesn’t cross our minds anymore,” Gray said. “We are fully blended, one big happy Voyager family.”
The young learners were brimming with excitement as they picked up rocks from the bins and carefully placed them inside the garden beds. “We had so much fun,” Koch said. “I love doing activities like this. It really brings the kiddos together and broadens their experiences at school. It’s so fun watching them interact and be creative. Today was another fun way to bring us together as a community and get a little dirty.”
Gray added, “It was obvious that they were having a wonderful time placing all the rocks. I loved listening to the little conversations they were having about the project and the rocks as they worked.”
As they filled the garden, the students marveled at the designs on each rock and pointed out their favorites to their peers.“My favorite rock was black and had a smiley face,” third-grader Moses Sang said. “Oh, and there was an M&M rock.”
Third-grader Jennifer Par said she noticed a Mexican flag rock and an American flag rock.
“I liked putting the rocks in the dirt,” she said. “I went to Hedrick and I remember making my rock when I came to Vickery.”
After the students finished filling up the garden, they took a quick photo and headed back to class. When they returned inside, Koch said her students asked to do more outdoor activities in the future, something Koch said she hopes to make happen. “They absolutely loved it and had a blast,” she said. “It was awesome listening to them remember painting the rocks and how special they felt to be able to put them in the garden. It sparked great conversations about when we merged the two schools and we got to share more memories.”
For Gray, he is thrilled his students enjoyed participating in the outdoor activity, and that the rock project has come full circle, which includes a special place on campus.
“We’re so happy with the finished product,” he said.
Gray also extended an invitation to the community, “Come and check it out over a weekend in our playground.”
From the beginning, LISD has committed to ensuring all students—your children—have the resources they need and want to ultimately thrive in a future they create. Follow LISD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see more student experiences throughout the school year or visit Best Schools in Texas for more information about joining the Lewisville ISD family.