One of Annapolis’s premier schools, the Key School engages children from 2.5 years of age until 12th grade in an expansive educational curriculum. The school grounds were already home to a Sacred Place, but over the years the boundary of the Sacred Place shifted as the school’s built environment changed. Rediscovered in 2018 by a group of Key School students, the Nature Sacred bench and Sacred Place became the subject of a podcast. Now, a relocation and redesign of the Sacred Place is needed to accommodate the current needs of the school and its population. The new location for the Sacred Place, in a central location on the Key School’s campus, will be a place for students to seek respite during the day, in line with the school’s aim to help children mature emotionally, especially with nature as a guide during that process. The Sacred Place can also serve as an educational asset, teaching students to care for and interact with the natural environment around them.
In collaboration with stakeholder groups of Key students and faculty, the new Sacred Place was designed to engage students of all ages. The students felt strongly that additional group and individual seating was needed, so three seating nooks, one Nature Sacred bench and two boulder seating areas, were added. Each is carpeted with sedge sprinkled with spring ephemerals for a burst of whimsy in the spring. Near the Nature Sacred bench is a tree stump, another feature the students connected strongly with. The existing sine curve-like shrub planting was mirrored and enhanced, and additional perennials added in elliptical shapes inspired by planetary orbits. Plants were chosen with an eye to activate the space with color, shape, and multisensory interest all year round. The pathway, with the offshoot takes on the curvature of a river and its tributaries. A fairy garden at one end of the path by the relocated Imagine rock (a gift by the graduating class of 1995) and birdhouses also provide points of interest.