by Ashley Ngu
What was once just a simple courtyard outside the school library has been cleaned up and transformed to meet the expectations of its name, the Acorn Lounge. “I saw an opportunity to create a usable and inviting space for the school community,” librarian Meg Omainksy wrote in an e-mail. “The idea was to create a natural landscape that would complement the campus and provide serenity in the courtyard.”
In March, Omainsky told Palo Alto Unified School District Operations Supervisor Chuck McDonnell of her desire for a makeover of the Acorn Lounge. She then remembered that landscaper Kim Perlmutter had wanted to help landscape a small area similar to the Juana Briones Reading Garden that she had worked on in 2007. Omainsky was able to contact Permutter and the project soon took off.
Work on the Acorn Lounge began in April. Perlmutter decided to ask Morgan Bricca, a friend and local muralist, to paint four murals that were completed in early May.
Perlmutter initially started landscaping as a way to survive the passing away of her four-year-old son’s. “I gardened to survive it, sort of as a mother of the earth,” she said. “It became a very passionate amazing, bigger than me, hobby.” The Juana Briones Reading Garden was dedicated to her son.
Perlmutter’s inspiration for the murals and landscaping came from local areas like Shoreline and Foothill, and one of her son’s favorite books called The Water Hole by Graeme Base. “We wanted something peaceful and aesthetically pleasing,” Bricca wrote in an e-mail. “I was trying to think about what it was like in high school—it’s kind of rough. There’s increasing pressure and demands. I wanted to create a safe place to explore, connect with the world and reflect.”
Perlmutter replaced the old mulch with a variety of handpicked plants. Boulders and new benches will be added in the near future. Omainsky also hopes to add whiteboards so that the area can be used as a possible outdoor classroom. Additionally, Omainsky is planning on holding a music series in the lounge, featuring the Gunn Jazz Band.
With the completed renovation of the Acorn Lounge, students can look forward to visiting a new place on campus to study and relax.