Rock garden plants seeds of kindness at Wolfe Park

Colorful painted rocks bearing positive words and inspirational messages like “smile”, “hope”, “kind” and “YOLO” which stands for “you only live once”, are in the new rock garden by the playground entrance at Wolfe Park.

The garden was created by students in Masuk High School’s Interact Club, who brought Monroe Rotary Club member David Wolfe’s idea to life. Wolfe was inspired by the rock garden at St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, Fla.

The sign for Wolfe Park’s garden says: “Welcome to Our Rock Garden! Take one for inspiration, share one for motivation, or leave one to help our garden grow.

On Sunday morning, Interact and Monroe Rotary club members worked together to create the garden.

Students used shovels to fill a wheelbarrow with white gravel and Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza, who is also a Rotarian, wheeled the load to the garden, where volunteers spread it out with rakes.

By the Wolfe’s Den playground entrance, stones painted by Masuk and Monroe Elementary School students awaited placement.

“I painted a minion,” Andrew Cecchino, 17, a Masuk junior, said of the fictional yellow characters from the children’s movie “Despicable Me”. “My buddy Jack and I, we painted minions with a group of four-five kids. A guidance counselor showed us how to design a rock. I think it came out great.”

“I think this is a really cool idea,” said Julia Sternthal, 16, a junior. “It’s fun.”

“We painted ladybugs,” said Zoe Santos, 16, a junior. “They’re all different. They’re all unique.”

“One kid dumped glitter on his rocks. It looked like a galaxy,” Sternthal said.

Teacher Lauren Iverson, mixed cement in a bucket to affix some stones to larger, more permanent rocks. Iverson is the Interact Club’s advisor.

“I’m so proud of them,” she said of her students. “I’m really grateful to the Rotary Club for giving them an idea they can relate to and run with. This is something we can keep coming back to with more programs.”

“Their families can see it and Monroe Elementary students can see their rocks here,” Iverson said, adding about 75 elementary school kids painted rocks. “Rock gardens started during COVID, giving people an opportunity to bring something positive to their community.”

Wolfe also volunteered Sunday, while getting to see his idea become a reality in Monroe.

“It’s nice to bring a little kindness to the town,” he said. “I hope people come and enjoy it and that they participate.”

“It’s wonderful that the Rotary and Interact clubs came together and chose our site,” said Parks and Recreation Director Missy Orosz. “It’s a wonderful addition for people to see when they come to the playground.”

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