Courtyard Conundrum

Over MEA break, the courtyard was cleared of trees for maintenance.


Nathan Baszuro

The courtyard looks very different after the project was completed.

Glancing outside the windows of the innermost classrooms of Cannon Falls High School, students and teachers alike witness a touch of nature surrounded by the building in the form of a courtyard. Although students aren’t allowed in the courtyard unsupervised, seeing a glimpse of the outside world during classes is a refreshing change for many. 

Over MEA break, on October 21 and 22, the courtyard was changed in a major way. In the past, it was adorned with trees and grass. Now all of that is gone. 

This can result in major maintenance costs for the district”

— Dave Peterson

Although the trees in the courtyard were certainly beautiful, they also posed a problem. As the courtyard isn’t very big and was filled with many trees, the trees were too close to the building. They were also too tall and caused issues on the roof with drainage. Leaves and branches would get caught in the drain system, causing the roof damage and adding up costs for the district to fix the drains. The trees were also a point of concern because they were damaged from storms, were aging, and in a state of decay. “This can result in major maintenance costs for the district. The district was being preventative in accumulating further damage and or cost related to the trees,” commented Dave Petersen, director of maintenance and operations at the high school. 

MEA break proved to be an opportune time to remove the trees. Even though the maintenance department would have preferred that the trees be removed earlier, there were setbacks with funding for the project. The project to remove the trees has been on the maintenance department’s list of priorities for over six years, but was set into motion this year. As the trees aged and became more hazardous, it became urgent that they be removed before they became a hazard to the school building or the people in it. 

We are hoping to ask the administration about planting pollinator friendly wildflowers or shrubberies that would be low maintenance”

— Bianca Caputo

Over the course of the tree removal project, the lawn in the courtyard was torn up with the machinery. New grass will grow and be maintained by the custodial staff at the high school. In years past, there have been birdhouses and feeders placed in the courtyard by the teachers to bring more life to the courtyard. Those had to be removed from the area for the project to commence. They can be put back in place as long as they are approved by the facilities department and administration. The Environmental Club has a plan to seek approval for projects this spring. “We are hoping to ask the administration about planting pollinator friendly wildflowers or shrubberies that would be low maintenance,” stated Bianca Caputo, the president of the club. Although the grass and trees were uprooted over the course of the project, there is room for new life in the future.