Category Archives: Building & Grounds

2016-01-16 MLK Day of Service

Just when we thought our partnership with Emory couldn’t get any better, they invite us to join them in hosting a third event during the MLK holiday. In our truly unique “Sagamory” fashion (yes, our relationship has evolved to the point of earning a moniker or “SHIP” name) we turned a contemplative day off from school into a day full-ON with service. Having it honor the memory of one of Atlanta’s own, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., made it more monumental. Sagamore families came out in droves again working elbow to elbow, with shovels, rakes, brooms, leaf blowers, wheel barrels, wagons and lawn bags in hand, loading, spreading, filling and moving in one accord. Emory matched our numbers by bringing their fiercely energetic Field Hockey and Jiu Jitsu teams along with the illustrious ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated-Nu Alpha Chapter. The weather even demonstrated signs of divine intervention by sprinkling us with rays of sunshine in lieu of rain drops. All we needed was the tune of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” softly playing in the background to take this day from fantastic to Over-The-Top. Instead, the Conrad and Karlowicz families pleasantly surprised our famished and parched crew with donations of a delicious assortment of Cheryl’s Cookies and bottled waters. With renewed energy, the Emory students firmly embraced their inner child and thrilled our students with “parent approved” high-speed wagon rides. As everyone reconvened in front of the school for a commemorative group picture and farewells, whispers of satisfaction filled the air followed by hopeful inquiries and promises of future partnerships. A dream conceived over fifty years ago lives on thanks to Emory and Sagamore.

Special Thanks:
Volunteer Emory • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.-Nu Alpha Chapter • Aria Desai & Family • Marin Karlowicz & Family • Mary Lawton Jones & Family • Laura Durbin and Family • Aiden & Sydney Conrad & Family • Henry & Charlie Farrell & Family • Kate, Elise and Maggie Bohm and Family • Caroline Chrystall & Family • Sarah Schied and Family • Hannah and Sadie Strohl and Family • Quinn Douglass and Family • Owen and Violet Flake & Family • Shane and Olivia Spillett • Ansley & Grady Ackert & Family • Gavin Messer & Family

Mrs. Tasha L. J. Messer
Edible Schoolyard Academy Alumnae 2016
Monarchs Across Georgia Certified
Captain Planet Project Learning Garden Liaison
Bachelors of Arts in Sociology
IRR SE Paraprofessional
Sagamore Hills Elementary School
1865 Alderbrook Road
Atlanta, GA 30345

2016-11-12 Emory Cares International Service Day

From Tasha Messer, Sagamore Hills Elementary School Paraprofessional and parent volunteer:

MISSION POSSIBLE: Emory Cares Service Days PAST and PRESENT!

As we entered this past holiday season, Volunteer Emory participants joined us for their annual Emory Cares International Service Day. Quoting their alumni association’s website, “Emory Cares International Service Day unites alumni, students, staff, faculty, parents, and friends to give back to their local communities. By bringing together diverse members of Emory’s community with a common goal of service, Emory Cares strengthens the bond with each other and the University, and increases Emory’s visibility around the world.”

Under the direction of Volunteer Emory staff member Phuong Tran, and fine leadership of Emory student’s: Xavier, Lauren, and Nived; their large and lively bus load of student volunteers arrived. Included in the group were members of the Bengali Association for Students at Emory (BASE) and Kappa Sigma (ΚΣ) fraternity. Their already enthusiastic faces brightened up even more once they saw the adorable mini Emory t-shirts worn by Sagamore students with alumni as parents. This ethereal meeting of Emory’s past, present and future created a simpatico moment. After THEY…shared their admiration of another creative sign made by the talented hands of Sagamore student’s; and WE…offered our sincere gratitude for another generous donation of supplies from them; EVERYONE…separated into their teams and got straight to work! The mission, that everyone had chosen to accept, was to make Sagamore’s campus look fabulous as we transitioned into the Fall and Winter seasons.

Throughout the day community members from all walks of life, including Emory graduates across generations, popped in to lend a hand of support. Seeing and hearing the connections being made with one another in this natural environment, all while accomplishing a common goal, was pleasing. The sheer number of individuals meticulous caring for our school on this day revealed to anyone passing by that this was truly a special place. The honks, smiles, and waves of support were immeasurable and a friendly reminder of the good we were doing. Before we knew it, neighboring homeowners all around us were out beautifying their yards as well…action begetting  action!

Sagamore students were not only hard workers but gracious host as well. They made it their duty to personally hand out water bottles to refresh our volunteers. This gesture, of course, was followed by many appreciative “AWES”.  As groups completed their task, a few managed to squeeze in enough time for a quick game of soccer. Watching the Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers revisit their youth and just be free-spirited children again was a joyful sight to see. There was only one reported “boo-boo” that needed bandaging; thank you Phuong for holding back the tears like a big girl. This was all followed by the entire Emory team convening for their usual moment of reflection. These poignant words…”Fulfilled”, “INVIGORATED”, “Helpful”, “De-Stressed”, and “SATISFIED” summarized their feelings about the day. The ultimate finale was Emory Project Leader, Xavier Sayeed, keeping his promise to race a few eagerly awaiting Sagamore students…it was a tie! With over 100 Home Depot Lawn and Refuse Bags filled to capacity, EVERYBODY was a winner that day!

Presently, Sagamore Hills Elementary School has demonstrated exemplary dedication to service in our community. As a result, Emory has invited us to join them in honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory with another day of service on our school campus. We, in turn, are inviting our entire Sagamore Hills Elementary School family (Faculty, Staff and ALL Club Members) to come out in support this effort. Please contact both Taylor Ackert ( and Tasha Messer ( if you plan to attend.

Emory & SHES-MLK Day of Service
Monday, January 16, 2017
12:00 pm-3:00 pm
*Sagamore Hills Elementary Schools’ campus

Honorable mention for attendance at the 2016 Emory Cares International Service Day goes out to the following:

  • Emory Student Volunteers
  • The Bengali Association for Students at Emory
  • Kappa Sigma Fraternity
  • Mary Lawton Jones and Family
  • Shane & Olivia Spillet and Family
  • Dan Acker and Family
  • Gavin Messer and Family
  • Marin Karlowicz and Family
  • Ansley & Grady Ackert and Family
  • Henry & Charlie Farrell and Family
  • Laura & Cate Durbin and Family
  • Olivia McMahan and Family
  • Omandee & Kalana Karunanayake and Family
  • Major Aristotle Rabanal (Emory Alumnus)
  • J.C. McBee


Mrs. Tasha L. J. Messer
Edible Schoolyard Academy Alumnae 2016
Monarchs Across Georgia Certified
Captain Planet Project Learning Garden Liaison
Bachelors of Arts in Sociology
IRR SE Paraprofessional
Sagamore Hills Elementary School
1865 Alderbrook Road
Atlanta, GA 30345


2016-08-27 Emory Volunteers at Sagamore Hills Grounds Day

By Tasha Messer, Sagamore Hills Elementary School Paraprofessional

Emory Truly Cares About Sagamore

(To the tune of the Ghostbuster’s theme song by Ray Parker Jr.)

If you need some work…done at your school.
Who you gonna call?
They ain’t afraid of no work!

Just a few weeks into the busy 2016-2017 school year, Sagamore Hills Elementary School hosted another Volunteer Emory-First Years’ Welcoming Day of Service. Sagamore Citizen’s from all grade levels showed up in support of this meaningful event. As the Emory Student’s bus drove in, they were pleasantly greeted by a welcome sign adorned with the precious handprints and signatures of many Sagamore students. The delightful look of astonishment on their faces further fueled their already helping spirits. They, in turn, surprised us with a generous donation of gardening  and groundskeeping supplies.

Shortly after this exchange was made; five separate teams, assigned to designated areas in need of immediate attention, went to work in our schools’ gardens and grounds. We did the usual… lawn mowing, leaf blowing, weed whacking, pine cone, leaf and litter collecting; and the unusual…grass sweeping. It took the brilliant mind of one of Emory’s own to come up with this effective yet humorous technique. There were moments where adults and children alike took a break, or two, or three, or four to use whatever method of cooling suited their needs. A thirst quenching swig if water… AHHH; a head cooling wipe of the brow… PHEWWW; or a quick run of the leaf blower through the hair… WHOOOSH! By the end of the day’s events; we had accomplished all the goals set out on our workday checklist. We even managed to satisfy some things from our personal  To-Do lists as well… EXERCISE (for the week)…check!

All joking aside; one of the most memorable moments was hearing the Emory students share their thoughts on the experience during their reflection discussion. Our outdoor classroom was the perfect backdrop for this intimate and enlightening conversation to unfold. When asked to describe how the experience made them feel; the words EMPOWERED, Respectful and Helpful were uttered. Tears welled up in many of the Emory student’s eyes from the emotional connection they made.  Everyone went away from the day feeling fulfilled knowing that we impacted the community in some small way.

A special THANK YOU is owed to both our Kindergarten and First Grade teaching teams for their donations of hand and facial cleansing supplies.

Now, if reading about this event has let you yearning to lend a helping hand… you’re in luck! Sagamore Hills Elementary School is honored to host the Volunteer Emory group again for their larger-scale Emory Cares International Service Day. Please mark your calendars, and plan to join us, for this upcoming event. The details are as follows:

LOCATION: Sagamore Hills Elementary School
DATE: Saturday, November 12th
TIME: 12:00pm-3:00pm
*All students must be accompanied by an adult

thumbs-upMrs. Tasha L. J. Messer
Edible Schoolyard Academy Alumnae 2016
Monarchs Across Georgia Certified
Captain Planet Project Learning Garden Liaison
Bachelors of Arts in Sociology
IRR SE Paraprofessional
Sagamore Hills Elementary School
1865 Alderbrook Road
Atlanta, GA 30345

2016 Summer Garden and More at Sagamore Hills Elementary

Gardens & Grounds Facelift

Community Building at its FINEST!

From Tasha Messer,
Sagamore Hills Elementary School Paraprofessional
and parent volunteer


As you approach our school you will notice that our gardens and grounds look more beautiful than ever! Their amazingly fresh appearance is largely due to the tireless efforts of a small group of student, parent, community member, business partner, and staff volunteers. Under the direction of Mrs. Messer, Paraprofessional at Sagamore Hills Elementary School, these individuals embarked on a summer-long gardening adventure!

Watering CANS!On the Edge (2)Initially, they were requested to attend to our S.T.E.M. Learning Garden (located in the courtyard) and the, recently installed, Captain Planet Project Learning Garden (located outside the exterior doors of the cafeteria). The maintenance of both required a rigorous amount of watering, weeding and harvesting during extremely hot and humid weather conditions. Although a daunting task at times, they stayed the course.

Grassy GrinWeed Wacking WomanAs things began to grow abundantly, the team was asked to expand their scope to include the upkeep of the school grounds as a whole. They replied with a resounding YES, adding an extra layer of responsibilities to their list of things to do. The new tasks now included mowing the lawns, weed eating edges, raking leaves, trimming hedges, bagging twigs, blowing away debris and litter collection. They had made it up in their minds that Sagamore Hills would not only hold the title of dual certified S.T.E.M school but look the part as well!

Messer MenTheir greatest source of motivation came from the simple pleasure of knowing that they were helping the school BE MORE! The gratitude displayed by school administration and maintenance staff was uplifting. However, the outpouring of compliments from surrounding community members was enough to evoke an emotion in any humble spirit. They were truly the wind beneath our wings.

Work Work Work Work Work Greenhouse IIThe pièces de résistance were the construction of the Green House and the completion of the Captain Planet Project Learning Garden (CPPLG) Revitalization Project. Mr. Mark Bollinger and his family-team committed three days to installing our adult-size, high tech greenhouse. Its S.T.E.M.-iest features are the nitroglycerin lifts that enable the vents to open and close automatically as temperatures dictate.

The CarbajalsNight & DayMr. Alexis Carbajal volunteered his time to, single handedly, professionally pressure wash and paint the badly peeling doors, windows and vents on the wall facing the Captain Planet Project Learning Garden. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, he even pressure washed the sidewalks as well. Thankfully, he had the moral support of his family including Mama Carbajal visiting all the way from Uruguay! They joined him every evening and weekend making for a delightful display of work-play moments.

DonationIn honor of The Sherwin-Williams Company 150-Year Anniversary; Mr. Bear Brown, Store Manager of the Shamrock Plaza location, donated ten gallons of paint and heavily discounted the cost of the remaining supplies needed to complete the painting project. The retail value for those items would have exceeded $900! After discounts were calculated, Mrs. Taylor generously contributed the lesser balance due for those supplies.

3 Thumbs UpLeaf PilesDuring this tremendous effort 760 water rotations were completed, hundreds of weeds were pulled, 78 bags of debris were collected and hauled, many unusual insects were discovered and countless bug bites were endured. It’s exhausting just recapping it all.

Rodriguez-Nava FamilyCutie Pie CrewA very special Thank You must be extended to the following students and their families for dedicating time during their summer break to volunteer service hours to our school. They truly embody the Be MORE motto by Doing MORE!

Acker (4th) • Alvarez-Ramos (3rd, 5th) • Baldwin (2nd, 4th) • Carbajal (4th) • Douglas (1st) • Helander (2nd) • Jones (2nd) • Karlowicz (1st) • Lake (3rd) • Martinez (2nd) • McMahan (kindergarten, 5th) • Meeks (1st) • Messer (2nd) • Perlmutter (pre-k, 3rd) • Rodriguez-Nava (5th) • Sanders (1st) • Shevlin (kindergarten, 2nd, 4th)

Bog area revitalization

School Grounds Needs Your Help!
Saturday, November 7th, 9am–noon

  • Cleaning up the bog area getting ready for an exciting new project
  • Trimming, mowing, blowing leaves

The bog area was a great addition years ago and served its purpose. Now it’s time for new growth and programs in that space, so we are to remove most of the landscape there. A beautiful oak has been growing in that area and will be the focal point of the new project.


  1. 2015-11-08: Weather kept most away, but some light grounds work was done
  2. 2015-12-05: Arbor was saved, trees thinned, leaves mulched, and more


Midday Sunday, October 11, 2015, the Sagamore Hills Elementary School PTA and Get Your Goat Rentals placed 20 goats to get rid of poison ivy, overgrown brush, and to help with mosquito control by the playground/track area. They’ll be there for at least 4 days.

  • The creek area is almost completely weeds and is suspected to be housing quite a few mosquitoes, is unsightly now, is affecting kids playing on the bridges, and is growing up onto the exercise equipment.
  • The goats eat the ivy leaves but they do not eat the roots of the plant. After six months or a year the ivy will grow back again so ongoing maintenance will be required to keep it clear.
  • The electric fence was tested and you have to grab it hard to get any kind of small zap out of it. It has no amps, so it wont truly hurt anyone, but it does give you a tickle like you have just bumped your funny bone at the elbow.
  • Sweet Pea the guard dog will keep the goats safe.

Visit to learn more.

Updated 2015-10-15

Grounds Day, fall 2015

Updated 2015-08-22

mulch animation

New playground mulch was installed this weekend by Building & Grounds‘ Dan Acker, other parent helpers, and funds raised by the PTA.

Updated 2015-08-15


The truck hauling the mulch could not make the turn into the back drive to deliver the mulch. After an hour of trying to figure out how to make it work, it was decided to send the truck back. Thank you to Ian Crystall and Mark Bollinger for being at the school this morning and working with the driver to try to make it happen.

We discussed having a regular “spruce up the ground” day today, but with no plan, we thought it would be a waste of our volunteers’ time.

Stay tuned for the rescheduling of Mulch Day 2015!

Originally posted 2015-07-24

Grounds Day is Saturday, August 15th, from 9a to noon.

We will be laying a lot mulch in the playground so please bring shovels and/or wheelbarrow if possible.

Please let us know if you’re coming!