Sierra High Students learn to use their talents |

Sierra High Students learn to use their talents

Local artist and naturalist Marya Roddis is trying to show students at Sierra High School that it’s not cool to waste your talents, no matter what those talents may be.

“I’m trying to find ways to make what these kids are learning inside the classroom meaningful and relevant outside, in their everyday lives,” says Roddis, a free-lance instructor with Arts for the Schools. “I’m also trying to show them that there’s ways to give back to the community, while at the same time developing their own creative talents.”

In efforts to do just that, Roddis will be heading up two major service learning projects at Truckee’s Sierra High this school year – a community garden and a mural for the nearby fire station on Donner Pass Road.

Over the next six weeks, students enrolled in earth sciences the school will exchange their textbooks for trowels, as they begin initial work on a mixed native and introduced plant community around the school site.

“In the front of the school, we’ll be working on school beautification,” Roddis said, pointing at the dirt lot that currently welcomes visitors to the school. “Then, in the back, we’ll be planting blossoms – lilacs, bearded irises, hybrid peonies and wildflowers – for resale.”

Students will also plant a series of species for various local agencies involved in reforestation and wildlife restoration projects.

“This project will provide hands-on experience for students in gardening, landscaping, reforestation, project planning and execution, and knowledge of plants and their uses,” Roddis said. “This is also a way to bring students together who normally might now associate, form new relationships and teach the importance of learning to work with others. It’s a lot more than just digging in the dirt.”

As it stands, multicolored flags mark where seeds have already been planted, while more trees wait their turn alongside the building.

While some students will be introducing local fauna to the area, others will be painting images of it on the side of the Truckee Fire Protection District building down the street from the school.

Last year, students completed a series of murals for school beautification for their own campus.

“There’s actually been plans in the works to paint their fire station for quite some time, but tragically it’s never actually happened,” Roddis said, in reference to the fact that the two previous project leaders both passed away before the painting had even begun.

“That’s why this project has such local historical value because it will also be a way to honor those two special community members that Truckee lost,” she said.

Roddis designed the initial mountain meadow scene; however, students will carry out the actual project on weekends and after school.

Roddis said she’s extremely grateful to all of the community partners for their generously donated time, money and supplies and she’s excited to watch the progress as both projects get underway.

“I can’t wait for the first time that I get to see the moon rise over it,” she said with a smile.

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