Garden to Honor Simms

Garden to Honor Simms
Journal Review
By Andy Barrand

Donna Simms had several loves in her life — two of them were the Crawfordsville High School theater department and flowers.

On Saturday, students from Crawfordsville High School and Tuttle Middle School replanted several of Simms’ flowers for everyone to enjoy at the Sugar Creek Nature Park. The flowers are part of a rain garden that was planted at the entrance of the park.

Along with helping the environment, the garden will also be a living memorial to Simms, a Marshall resident who died at the age of 60 on Sept. 21, 2009. A plaque will be placed at the site in her honor.

The plants will absorb rain nutrients and runoff from U.S. 231 so they don’t make their way to Sugar Creek.

“Before her passing I talked with her about the project,” said Simms’ daughter, Paula Kochert, Crawfordsville High School assistant theater and musical director and library media assistant. “She told me to take the plants for the students.”

After making short work of the project, the students took time to walk through the park while waiting on mulch that was donated by Tim Light of Light Landscaping.

Plans for the garden were drawn up by Tuttle Middle School students, led by science teacher Shannon Hudson.

“The students did all of the work on this project,” said Hudson.

One student who did a lot of the research for the project was seventh-grader Skylar Daniels.

“You can learn a lot by getting out and getting your hands dirty,” he said.

Rocks from Simms’ garden that she collected out of Sugar Creek will also be placed around the edge of the garden.

Also helping to plant the flowers was Simms’ sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Jim Jineris. Her granddaughter, Marigrace
Kochert, also helped to plant several of the plants.

Planted in the center of the garden was a knockout rose that was given to Simms by her son while she was in the hospital.

“That was one of her favorite flowers,” said Paula.

As time goes on, more plants will be added to the garden. Several community organizations including the ladies of the Moose donated to the project. Hudson also received an Indiana American Water Grant for the project.

To help meet state regulations, Hudson worked closely with the Indiana Department of Transportation. Hudson said that if the plants hold up and she can find more grant money, she will look into expanding the garden.

“This is a way we can help to beautify the entrance to Crawfordsville,” said Hudson.

Hudson believes opportunities like this help the students to learn, getting them out of the classroom.

“If I can plant an environmental seed now in the students, I have done something,” said Hudson. “This is something that they can drive by for years and say, ‘I had a hand in building that.’”

After Simms’ death, a scholarship fund in her name was set up at Crawfordsville High School.

Simms spent several years helping Kochert with costumes at the school. This year’s recipient of the scholarship was senior Hannah Anderson. She has been in every production nat the school over the last four years.