"Without support and funding from Harvest, we would be unable to develop, promote and sustain initiatives to address health issues and work toward a healthier future for Martinsville and Henry County. "
- Barbara Jackman, Executive Director - MHC Coalition for Health and Wellness
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Students are set to blossom

November 10, 2013

By VICKY MORRISON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Albert Harris Elementary School held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for its newest classroom: a greenhouse.

The greenhouse, located in the school courtyard, was funded by a $10,000 Harvest Foundation Pick Up the Pace grant that was awarded last spring. Tables for the facility were constructed and donated by Boy Scout Troop 326, and the City Schools Endowment Fund provided a $500 grant for plant supplies.

Harvest Foundation program officer Gladys Hairston said Albert Harris applied for the grant in March. Pick Up the Pace grants are intended to take 90 days from application to completion, she said, but “spring rains caused a little bit of a delay” in the greenhouse project.

The project resumed by late summer. The process lasted “a little longer than anticipated, but it was well worth it,” Hairston said.

After instructing all students to raise their thumbs into the air at Friday’s ceremony, Gifted and Enrichment Coordinator Kathy Campbell told the students excitedly, “we’re all going to have green thumbs!”

Seeds have been planted in the greenhouse, which will be used by students in all grades. Among the seeds are flowering plants, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, sunflowers, lettuce and various herbs. In the area in front of the greenhouse, a fig tree, tulips and sunflowers have been planted. Posters inside depict photosynthesis and the anatomy of plants.

Hairston said she hopes students will develop a frame of reference for agriculture and food that they don’t encounter as much as some Henry County students who live in rural areas. She hopes students will “develop a passion for agriculture and planting, try some new vegetables and fruits” and “become scientists,” she said.

“I am so excited for students just to be able to get outside the classroom” and study material besides their textbooks, said Albert Harris Principal Felicia Preston.

The greenhouse, she said, “incorporates so many different content areas” because the students will not only see the science of plant life but also have the chance to reflect through writing assignments about the greenhouse.

The most emphasized aspect of the greenhouse is the opportunity for students to learn in a hands-on manner, said Campbell. Hands-on is “how students like to learn now,” Preston observed.

Instructional Coordinator Violet Nelson said students will sell the plants to earn funds for more greenhouse projects, which will develop economics concepts taught in the classroom. She added that students will give back to the community, either through such plans as gifts to nursing homes or for Mother’s Day.

The greenhouse, Nelson said, “is a nice way for the kids to take ownership of what they’re learning.”

Preston said AHES plans to create an outside patio space with picnic tables beside the greenhouse to be used for classwork during warm weather. That project will get started in the spring, she said.

Fourth-grader and student council president Clarence Plunkett called the greenhouse “something wonderful for the school.” Third-grader and student council vice president Kaliyah Morris said the greenhouse “might help the kindergartners to learn how the plants grow.”

Clarence, Kaliyah and student council secretary Sierra Belcher took part in the ribbon-cutting, along with Hairston, Preston, Campbell, Nelson and schools Superintendent Pam Heath.

A greenhouse has been in use at Patrick Henry Elementary School for several years, and another is under construction at the high school.




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