by Clellie Allen
WAKE FOREST — Music students at Franklin Academy Elementary School have a whole new way to make joyful noise thanks to enterprising Eagle Scout candidate Jonathan Wertz.
Jonathan, 14, planned and helped build an outdoor musical garden for students, complete with drums, chimes, xylophone and other percussive items.
When students were turned loose into the project Friday, it was clearly a hit.
Jonathan attends Franklin Academy and has siblings in the elementary school. When he was sorting through different ideas for his Eagle Scout project, teacher Courtney Roberts suggested the idea of a musical garden. Jonathan also saw something similar at the Durham Museum of Life and Science and was sold on the idea.
As the point of Eagle Scout projects is not to do all the work oneself, but to plan and enlist others, Jonathan looked to his family and friends for help.
His father, Jeff, helped with the building plans and then a horde of Scouts from his troop, 511 out of St. Catherine of Siena, plus another Scout from Franklin Academy, his brothers, his mom, Kathy, and his grandfather helped make it reality.
All told, Jonathan and crew worked some 200 hours on the project, which took three weekends to construct.
The Franklin Academy parents association helped raise money, about $1,140, and Jonathan looked to repurpose as many items as possible.
The drums, for example, were a Goodwill find, as were many of the instruments that were cooking implements in a former life.
The pots and pans that didn’t come from thrift stores, came out of his grandparent’s basement, he said.
The project includes a percussion shelter with drums and buckets to bang on. There’s also a musical wall covered with pots, pans and even metal jello molds.
The hanging chimes and xylophone were cut by Jonathan and he also constructed two rainmakers.
Franklin Academy music teacher Michelle Warshany plans to use the garden for outdoor lessons.
“We’re really excited about this new part of our playground,” Roberts said during the ribbon cutting Friday.
“This feels great. Feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Jonathan said with a laugh as he watched students run between the different stations.
“It’s neat to see everyone using it,” he said.