Students at Platt Elementary School have a new reason to grow and succeed.
A group of students, teachers and community members gathered at the school early Saturday morning to install five gardens, a day which second grade teacher Ashley Sanchez has waited two months for. The gardens were the key component for a grant proposal she submitted, called Harvesting Helpful Hands, to the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program in October.
Sanchez received word that her proposal, which she wrote with assistant principal Stephanie Cockrell, had been selected out of 1,500 entries to receive $2,100 for her school. Seeing the project go from words on paper into a community project, Sanchez said, is unbelievable.
“We are so blessed to be part of a supportive community,” Sanchez said while watching the gardens come together piece by piece.
In preparation for the gardens, students have already started growing plants in their classrooms. Sanchez said they will be planting their okra, squash and zucchini plants at the beginning of April.
The project covers multiple areas of curriculum, including math, science, writing and reading. Students will observe the plants, calculate their growth, read about their plants and write reports of their own findings.
Not only is it educational, but the gardens will teach students about life. Sanchez said the second graders will take on basic gardening tasks, such as watering and weeding, that will provide lessons in responsibility and teamwork.
Bradley Johnson said he can’t wait to see the plants grow bigger, nor can he wait to play in the dirt.
“It’s important to keep them watered because that’s how they drink and grow,” he said excitedly.
Makenzie Gray said she is anxious to get their classroom plants into the newly prepped soil. She hopes the extra space and sunlight will help them grow faster.
“I’ve been waiting for them to grow,” she said. “It has taken them a while to grow just a little.”
The second graders are not only learning in a hands on environment outside the walls of their classrooms, but they are getting a lesson in giving back to their community as well as give back to the community. Once the vegetables are harvested, Sanchez said they will be given to students at the school who participate in the backpack program.
Sanchez said any extra produce will be given to the Haughton community through churches or food organizations to help feed those who can’t afford or don’t have access to fresh produce.
“We love our community so we are more than happy to help,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said the second graders will still get to taste the fruits of their labor before handing them all out. Addison Schaub said she wants to plant both vegetables and flowers in the garden.
The gardens will be a project students at Platt Elementary use every year, changing vegetables as new students make their way through the second grade.
Sanchez said the newly installed gardens are just what she dreamt of seeing. Assistant principal Stephanie Sanchez agreed, adding that this is something school administrators have wanted at the school for a while.
“Our students will learn the value of hard work and eat a nutritional snack that they have grown themselves,” she said. “We are very proud of our teachers, students and community.”