Open house teaches lessons, raises funds

December 1, 2011

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Magna Vista High School Horticulture Department will host its annual Christmas Open House from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Friday.

Poinsettias, ornaments, wreaths and centerpieces will be offered for sale.

Between July and September, 2,900 poinsettias were planted in the school’s greenhouse in preparation for the holiday season. As of Wednesday, 400 poinsettias already had been sold, according to Deborah Barker, horticulture teacher at MVHS.

The poinsettias come in 10-inch baskets for $16, 6-inch pots for $8 and 4-inch pots for $4.50. They are available in red, white, pink, burgundy, Silver Star and Crystal Palace.

Each of the decorations was designed by the 130 students enrolled in the horticulture classes at MVHS. Freshmen students create the ornaments while the older students design the wreaths and centerpieces, Barker said.

The students began designing the pieces three weeks ago and the designs are “one of a kind” because the students come up with the focal point, type of ribbon, type of container/wreath and the color scheme for their designs, Barker said.

“They come up with things I would have never thought of,” she added.

This is the 31st annual Christmas Open House. It started when the horticulture program was at then-Laurel Park High School, and it moved to Magna Vista when it and Laurel Park became a middle school.

The event teaches students design skills as well as marketing, customer service, how to present themselves to the public, how to execute tasks, problem-solving and leadership skills, Barker said.

The students are in charge of managing orders and making sure that all purchased poinsettias are wrapped in foil and accompanied by a bow. They will make bows for and wrap about 1,000 poinsettias in the two days of the open house, Barker said.

Some problem-solving skills come into play when a student has to juggle wrapping walk-in orders and having the pre-ordered poinsettias wrapped and ready for the scheduled pickups, said MVHS junior Brittany Brummitt.

A student must be organized to get everything done on time while dealing with customers and customer complaints, said MVHS senior Lauren Nance.

The experience of the open house “gets them to be independent and they run the business,” Barker said. “They see what needs to get done and they get it done.”

“It makes for an interesting day ... it’s not boring at all” because you are so busy, said MVHS senior Victoria Gray.

Gray added that she likes being independent and “the teacher trusting you to get things done.”

Last year during the two days of the open house, about 300 people came through the horticulture department, Barker said. Between the poinsettia and design sales, the department earned about $20,000, which goes toward the expansion of the horticulture department, she said.

The earnings of the open house sales and the greenhouse’s spring plant sales enabled the department to add a cold frame (a high-tunnel greenhouse) last spring. The plans are for the cold frame to be a place to grow vegetable plants in the fall and raise butterflies in the spring, Barker said.

The department also will expand its study garden. The expansion will include a maze with head-high plants and a water feature in the middle.

In addition, the money raised helps cover the travel costs for competitions throughout the year and helps students with the cost of garden study tours in the spring, Barker said.

All of the money “eventually all goes back to them (the students),” she added.


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