By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 07, 2012 at 10:08 AM

When I talked to the principal at Maryland Avenue Montessori School this morning, we agreed it's a great day for the ribbon cutting ceremony on the MPS school's new rain garden. There was a light drizzle and the show would go on.

As long as there's been an East Side, there's been a Maryland Avenue School (though with different monikers before 1912). The current building was erected in 1887, making it 125 years old this year, and it replaced an earlier, smaller building.

The K3-8 school – which serves just under 400 students and is among the best performing and most diverse in the district – is located on the high-traffic, high-profile intersection of Maryland and Prospect Avenues. So, when the parents and other members of the school community raised enough money for a new rain garden that was completed in late August, it was good news for the entire community.

Before you click "post talkback," MPS did not fund any of the 14,000-square foot garden project. The money was raised in the school community and from donations collected by parents. (Disclosure: I serve on the school's governance council.)

The garden replaces the cracked asphalt of a 10,000-square foot triangular parking lot that was difficult to navigate, thanks to its shape. The project was timed to coincide with district plans to repave the school's larger parking lot northeast of the building. It is the first step toward turning the school's sea of asphalt into a greener space (again, NOT on this district's dime).

Now, this rain garden will use an underground rainwater harvesting system to collect and re-use about 42,250 gallons of water each year. While the students benefit from using the garden as a natural classroom and the neighborhood wins from the beautification of a parking lot into a stunning garden, the whole city benefits from removing tens of thousands of gallons from the storm sewers each year, too. Today's ribbon cutting takes place at the school at noon. All are invited.

And the good news is that while the garden will be wet from the morning rain, it looks like the sun is peeking through now. The perfect weather for a ribbon cutting ceremony for a rain garden.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.