Nolan to add Medieval Labyrinth Reflective Garden in spring

Nolan to add Medieval Labyrinth Reflective Garden in spring

December 1st, 2011 by Emily Crisman in Local Regional News

Nolan Elementary School is one step closer to becoming a castle with the upcoming installation of its Medieval Labyrinth Reflective Garden.

Nolan Elementary art teacher Kathie Nolan accepts a grant for $750 she applied for from the Junior League of Chattanooga to cover the cost of starting a Medieval Labyrinth Reflective Garden at the school. From left are Nolan; fellow Nolan Elementary teacher Nancy Guild, who also received a grant from JLC; Nolan principal Shane Harwood; and Jennifer Franklin, JLC president.

Nolan Elementary art teacher Kathie Nolan accepts a...

Photo by Emily Crisman

The unique garden space often featured in the design of medieval castles and churches fits in with the Nolan Knight school mascot and medieval-theme murals which already line the walls of the school.

"We like to refer to Nolan as 'the castle,'" said art teacher Kathie Nolan, who is at the helm of the project.

She applied for and won a $750 mini-grant from the Junior League of Chattanooga to purchase plants for the garden and stones for the labyrinth path.

"I was designing my personal garden space at home, a labyrinth path, and thought, 'How fun would it be to have an educational reflective garden at the school?'"

The labyrinth is for all the community to use, she said.

"What we want to do is provide a place for people to come and walk the path," said Nolan. "The labyrinth is intended to provide a journey of meditations and peaceful thoughts of gratitude or solution."

She said many people have the misconception that a labyrinth is like a maze, which is intended to confuse, trap and present problems. On the contrary, labyrinths are intended to instill a sense of peace and provide a traditional healing journey in those who walk them.

"The kinesthetic sensation created by the motion of a switchback has been shown to be very healthy for the brain," said Nolan of the benefits of walking the labyrinth path. "It makes your brain use both sides."

The garden will feature benches facing in each cardinal direction and "thinking spots" with inspirational quotes, giving students a place where they can take time out from their day for quiet conversation or to simply relax and think.

"We're hoping it will be a learning place outside the classroom for both school and personal use," said Nolan. "I see people using it on the weekends."

Educational features such as a sundial and rain gauge will be added once planting and the path are complete. She said students will be able to use the labyrinth for a variety of classroom activities from studying the parts of a plant to creating mosaic designs for the garden's benches.

Nolan said she would like to eventually have students create 3-D sculptures to add to the garden, and she also wants to put in a water feature and lights powered by solar energy.

She said she hopes to have community participation in the labyrinth's creation.

"We're hoping to get people to help who are here on Signal so there's some pride in ownership," said Nolan.

She said the plan is to start the labyrinth in the spring and document progress along the way so students 50 years from now will have a sense of how it began.