Things got a little greener around Scotchtown Hills Elementary in Laurel last week.
On May 24, students, staff and employees from the Laurel Home Depot gathered to build and celebrate a new vegetable garden behind the school — a garden that will soon be teeming with vegetables for use in the school cafeteria, said Jessica Harvey, fourth-grade teacher and advisor of the school's Green Team.
The vegetable garden is a result of three years' worth of planning, and was made possible by the Home Depot, Harvey said. Not only did the store provide all the supplies for the garden, but employees were on site at the school to build and plant the garden as well, with help from students.
Even Mayor Craig Moe was on hand for the garden's ground-breaking early May 24.
"We've been trying to do this for three years," Harvey said. "We're trying to get students involved to help out — they'll maintain the beds. It's a way to open their eyes to more ways we can become more green."
The garden, made up of six raised 32-by-40-inch beds, will help Scotchtown maintain its Governor's Green School Award, Harvey said, and the school plans to apply for a Silver Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
"We do lots of recycling, reducing and re-using in our classrooms, and the city of Laurel just gave us new recycling bins, too," Harvey said.
Students are already involved in environmental education at the school, Harvey said, doing such things as helping to plant flower beds around the school and going on nature walks. The garden will be used as another educational tool, as students learn to plant vegetables and care for them.
"They don't always learn about this at home," Harvey said. "Now, they can take what they have learned in school and apply it to their home lives. This is a fun way to learn; it gives them a sense of responsibility, a sense of accomplishment and ownership. They're planting these vegetables, and they get to see them grow; it's a good quality to have as an adult."
Taking care of the plants is exactly what fifth-graders like Hawah Solee, Johanna Ramos and Marshae Smith are looking forward to.
"It's fun to be able to make something," Hawah said. "It's even cooler to know the plants are something we're actually going to use."
Marshae said it would be fun for new students at Scotchtown to see the garden, and to see what the students were doing at the school.
On May 24, students in grades 2-6, all members of the after-school Green Team, gathered around representatives from University of Maryland's Food Supplement Nutrition Education representatives, learning about healthy eating. Many of the foods in the lesson are foods that are being grown in the garden: beets, radishes, watermelons, cucumbers and sunflowers, among other plants.
For Johanna, the lesson from the FSNE revealed that some of her favorite foods are healthy foods.
"You don't always know that," she said. "Oh, and, I learned there's more than one kind of rice: white rice and brown rice."
Board prepares to vote on $1.6 billion budget
ThePrince George's CountyBoard of Education is set to vote on the $1.6 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2013. The vote is expected June 28.
In a statement, Superintendent William Hite thanked County Executive Rushern Baker III and the County Council for supporting education funding, and for their commitment to providing high-quality academic opportunities for Prince George's students.
"By supporting our budget priorities — funding student needs, innovation, fiscal stability, supporting employees — county leadership will enable us to continue moving this school system forward," Hite said.