Pasadena’s Weizmann Day School to Dedicate New Play Yard and Garden

Weizmann Day School is dedicating a new garden and play yard — including “Cindy’s Playground,” outdoor learning space, picnic tables, and sport court – on the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center (PJTC) / Weizmann Day School campus on Sunday, May 6th, at 4:00 p.m. The dedication will include the unveiling of a beautiful new tile wall and ceramic tree mosaic, created by the Weizmann students under the direction of Weizmann’s art teacher Ellen Dinerman, who herself has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics and Sculpture from Claremont Graduate School.

The event will mark the culmination of Weizmann’s the Field of Dreams project to create an outdoor nature classroom, garden, and play out of an area that had been covered with patchy grass and blacktop, and is usually used for overflow parking. “This started as a grass roots movement in every sense of the term,” said school parent and Parent Organization chair Katharine Higgins. “The parents and staff were really passionate about transforming the space into one where members of the school and synagogue communities could congregate, socialize, learn and play in a beautiful setting.”

The initial design concept was donated by PJTC member Amy Nettleton of Elemental Landscapes. The space includes a play yard, an outdoor classroom with tree stump seats, picnic tables and eating area, and a garden — all in a naturalistic setting with native trees, rocks and plants, that echo nearby Eaton Canyon.

In addition, the students were intimately involved in creating the tree mosaic. In preparation, Weizmann elementary school students studied local Pasadena trees and the ecosystems they provide for other plants, insects and animals. The middle school students assisted in critical design decisions of texture and color, giving the tree a naturalistic feel. Then, each class had an opportunity to create and later grout mosaic pieces—leaves, insects, flowers, and animals—to the tree trunk and branches. Each piece was hand-sculpted in clay, fired in our kiln, glazed, and then re-fired to achieve its final (spectacular) form.

Trees have special meaning for the community. Trees receive a lot of attention in Jewish tradition — from the infamous apple tree in the Garden of Eden to Tu B’Shvat, an entire holiday celebrating trees. Even our school logo is an olive branch – a universal symbol of peace. For these and many other reasons, a very special tree is now the crowning jewel of the play yard and garden.

“We have a vibrant and growing school and synagogue communities here and a barren front yard was a disconnect,” said Head of Weizmann Day School, Lisa Feldman. “ I am incredibly excited to have a beautiful and functional space that our communities can share and enjoy. Today, we can sit on a picnic table (or even swing from a monkey bar) and take in the mural in the midst of a lovely and useful gathering space that has so many of our fingerprints, figuratively and literally, within it. I am very grateful to the families and community members who worked so hard to make this a reality.”

Light refreshments will be served at the dedication, and children are welcome. Weizmann students will sing in celebration, the new tree mosaic and tile wall will be formally unveiled, and the play yard donors and community supporters recognized.

About Weizmann Day School

Established in 1983, Weizmann Day School is a non-profit, independent co-educational school (Kindergarten-8th grade) offering outstanding academic education enriched by Judaic principles and values. Our school is committed to maintaining small class sizes with differentiated teaching strategies to fit individual students’ educational and social development. We believe academic achievement goes hand-in-hand with tikkun olam (finding ways to improve society). The school welcomes students from a wide variety of Jewish, interfaith and diverse backgrounds.

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