By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
Since 1991, Amanda’s Garden has taught many students at Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., and throughout the community how to garden. Over the years, the garden has grown in the northeastern corner of the school’s campus. Students and community members have planted flowers, trees, and vegetables.
During the afternoon on April 28, parents, teachers, students and community members were invited to participate in a work day at the garden. Volunteers were asked to clean the garden and help plot where new plants would go. Hyde Park’s Girl Scout Troop 25174, who meets twice a month at the First Unitarian Church, was working during the afternoon to earn their gardening badge.
Amanda’s garden was created in May of 1991 in the memory of Amanda Carter, a second grader at Ray who was struck and killed by a drunk driver on the Midway Plaisance in March of 1991.
“For Diane [Herrmann] and I, it was a terribly upsetting thing, but, it was (also) upsetting to her classmates,” said Andy Carter, Amanda’s father, a former teacher at Ray Elementary and current member of Ray’s local school council. “These second graders who knew her and was her friends. As a school, we were grieving. Students in her class came up with the idea for a garden, they knew that Amanda loved butterflies and flowers. They said: ‘Why don’t we plant a memorial garden?'”
As the garden has grown over the years, Amanda’s parents hope that it is a place for families to enjoy.
“Kids have been involved in this from the very beginning. We’ve tried to make it something where children can contribute to the maintenance and the ongoing help of the garden. It’s a comfort to me that she is remembered and we have this beautiful spot,” said Carter.