As the New Year comes around, the Buena high school Environmental Club already has a new set of plants for Amy’s Garden. Amy’s Garden is dedicated to a beloved Buena high school science and Spanish teacher, Amy Reinert. Four months after being diagnosed with cancer, Amy passed away in Feb. 2012, at the age of 36.
Changes are underway to convert the garden to low maintenance, drought-tolerant native plants. The environmental field studies class will collect seeds from these plants to be used in habitat restoration. In the new garden there will be dedicated planters that will be used to grow vegetables and herbs. Plans are also in place for the garden to be used by students in special education who will learn how to grow vegetables as well as how to cook them.
The garden had originally started as a B.A.R.K. enrichment class, along with the Environmental club. It grew vegetables and herbs that were sold to staff and the cafeteria to be used in the salad bar. When Amy was teaching at Buena she was involved in the environmental club, and also volunteered in the garden.
When Amy passed away, former Buena teacher Cheryl Wheeler and her husband were instrumental in coordinating the efforts to rename the garden in Amy’s memory. Many Buena staff participated in the creation of the garden, such as Scott Mannenin, who built the wooden stand to hold her picture, and Nicole Rapattoni, who created the mural for the garden which is located near the garden’s gate. At Amy’s memorial service, tiles were made by students, staff, family, and friends to decorate the new metal fence surrounding the garden. The money to redo the gate was raised by donations from family and friends. It was dedicated to Amy on June 9, 2014.
Those who didn’t get the chance to know Amy might wonder what type of person she was. Anne McGavren described her as someone who would light up the room, “she had a smile that made everyone feel comfortable and safe, it was awesome,” said McGavren. She and McGavren were very good friends, and they would go to a workout session afterschool, they enjoyed challenging each other. Amy was a popular teacher because “she was animated, she put in a lot of energy to make her lessons fun” said McGavren. Amy was a person that was jam-packed with life and joy. It’s fitting that a beautiful garden is dedicated to a beautiful soul.