The at was officially named The Robert H. Faller Environmental Pond at a recent dedication ceremony in the school’s courtyard attended by administrators, students and staff.
It is a memorial to Robert Faller, a former WMS student who died in a helicopter accident many years ago. During the ceremony, Faller’s father Bernie unveiled a permanent plaque bearing his son’s name.
“I would like to thank everyone who came up with the idea, the people who planned it, those who made it happen and the students who did the heavy lifting,” said Faller, who flew in from his Kentucky home for the ceremony. “I hope people will learn a lot from it. I’m glad that we have something that will be here for many years. Robbie would have been very interested in this kind of thing, because he had a very inquisitive mind.”
Students constructed the pond in the fall, under the direction of a landscaping company that helps kids design and build aquatic ecosystems for their schools.
“It will provide many opportunities to enrich our students’ curriculum,” said Edward Tronolone, WMS science chairman for grades six to 12. “Students will be encouraged to make connections between classroom instruction and the natural world. They will learn how animals and plants survive the winter and study water samples. The sixth grade curriculum included a lot of life science, so this project fit in perfectly."
In the next few weeks, tadpoles, frogs and sunfish will be added to the pond, which students will observe and study. In the future, the district also plans to build a greenhouse in the courtyard, which will complement the pond and add a new dimension to the outdoor science lab.
The event also included nature-themed poetry readings from nine students. Dr. Peter Pantina, acting English chair for grades six through 12, said that they were finalists in a recent WMS writing contest.
The pond project was completely funded by The Robert Faller Foundation, a charity that Bernie Faller created in memory of his son. For more than 20 years, the fund has helped to facilitate projects for the school and its students.
According to WMS Principal Rick Berkowitz, the foundation has helped provide funding for school lectures, educational materials, memorial scholarships for students and other projects.
“It’s a beautiful day to begin a journey of outdoor environmental learning,” said Superintendent Dr. Joyce Bisso.