SEM in Bloom: Spring in the Magavern-Sutton Courtyard

“If you go out there right now you’re likely to see flowers on trees along the far fence,” said Ms. Kemmis. “Those are witch hazel trees. The witch hazel trees were a special request by the designer, Mary Magavern Worrel ’60. It’s a very sentimental tree for her and her family. We went and picked up the trees from Rhode Island, where she lives. They have a very special place in our courtyard.”

Morgan Baker , Contributor

After a chilly winter, spring is on its way! This spring will be SEM’s first with the new Magavern-Sutton Courtyard. What changes are in store for SEM’s new pleasant pasture green?

“I think that’s a surprise for all of us,” said Kris Kemmis, SEM’s director of special projects, responsible for the upkeep of the courtyard. “We did all our plantings in the late summer so we didn’t get to see a bloom. I’m looking forward to seeing how the plants have changed and spread over the winter. When they come up, we’re going to see more color than we did in the fall.”

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Overall, students are taking to the courtyard well as a serene refuge from the stress of school days. “It’s peaceful and more soothing than in school. There’s [a lot of] people inside but when you’re in the courtyard you can sit in the grass,” said freshman Journey Hairston.

“I know I’m probably going to have a lot of work to do, so I’m probably going to go out there and dance,” said fellow freshman Ania Wright. “The courtyard [is nice for dancing] because everyone can see my good moves, and I can express myself and break it down for everybody to see.”

What’s more, SEM students are dreaming big about their hopes for the courtyard.

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“We should get chalk and draw things! I’d draw flowers, and plant real flowers,” said Grace Cloherty ’17.

Seated nearby, Katie McClenahan ’17 added, “Hopscotch! Treehouses! When the trees get bigger, we could build treehouses in them and they could become [new] dorms.”

In the nearer future and a little more prosaically, Ms. Kemmis hopes for a successful spring wash of color.

“[There were some girls who] planted many bulbs in the late fall, so we’ll see quite a variety of red tulips of all different variations coming up, probably in April.”

In addition she hopes that the courtyard will serve as a new event space. “It’s going to be exciting to see how we use the courtyard in the spring with all of our upcoming events – Alumnae Weekend, our graduation events,” she said. “I think we’ll start to take some events outdoors that we usually host indoors, since we have this beautiful space to host these special events.”