I spent an hour this morning with some very dedicated students at North Shore Middle School in Glen Head. Plans are under way for an outdoor classroom there, and the kids aren't only involved in the planning -- they'll be breaking ground Saturday morning, as well.

The space will be used for team meetings, public speaking, drama classes, band, chorus and orchestra performances, outdoor recess and more, and is expected to be in use for six months every year. The PTA and students raised money for the project by selling bricks, which were engraved with donors' names and will be used to pave the platform, and by hosting a casino night fundraiser back in October.

With the help and support of architect Sandy Berger, teacher Michelle Berger, principal Marc Ferris and a few other community members with knowledge and skills to share, the kids have designed a stadium-style seating area that will be built into a hill with Nicolock interlocking paving stones, providing seating for about 150 students. There will be a teacher platform at the front of the classroom, which essentially is at the bottom of the hill, and the whole thing needs landscaping. That's where I come in. The school has asked the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County, of which I'm a member, to lend some expertise.

Where to begin? There's an existing water feature -- a small pond behind the platform on the far left and an old arbor at the bottom of the hill on the right. My mission is to pretty up the place, but it's not as simple as that. Thought must be given to maintenance, which I'd like to keep extremely low, among other things. And I'm only considering plants with two or more seasons of interest, not two-week bloomers that will fade into the background. 'Knock Out' roses come to mind, because they bloom effortlessly from May through frost, and redtwig dogwoods, which would add lots of drama during the winter months, when, although not in use, the space will be highly visible from inside the building.

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Community members have been asked to show up at the site at 8 a.m. Saturday prepared to help in this modern-day barn-raising effort.

I'll keep you updated.