Harwich Elementary School Celebrates Community and Diversity with Only One You Rock Garden

An interdisciplinary project...
Harwich Elementary students show off their rock garden creation. (MRSD photo)

An interdisciplinary project to encourage Harwich Elementary School students to appreciate community, diversity, and kindness has resulted in a painted rock installation in the school’s courtyard garden.

Every student at HES painted a colorful rock and those rocks were placed in the courtyard, offering a bright visual representation of students’ individuality and a reminder that together, diversity creates beauty.

This project was based on the book "Only One You" by Linda Kranz, which celebrates diversity and uniqueness within a community. It tells the story of a rockfish, Adri, whose parents share their wisdom to comfort and guide him as he goes about exploring the world. The book’s message is “There's only one you in this great big world. Make it a better place.”

To reflect the themes in the book, students read “Only One You,” discussed its messages, and each student at HES painted a rock. Harwich Elementary School teachers Beth Connors and Nancy Capen led this project with support from teacher Katie Carey, and they obtained a generous grant from the Harwich Cultural Council to allow the entire school to participate. Stonewood Products also made a very generous donation to the project. The project engaged students across a range of curriculum areas, including art and foreign language, and supported the social-emotional learning of each student. Parents graciously volunteered in classrooms to help with the painting of the rocks. HES custodian Rick Sirois artfully created the design and layout for the rock garden, and teacher Shannon Wragg created hand-lettered signs describing the project.

In keeping with the school’s mascot, the rock garden was formed in the shape of a shark, and each class visited the garden to place their rocks. The resulting colorful display will not only brighten the courtyard for years to come, but will serve as a reminder that "We are all different, but together we make a masterpiece!"

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