Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Introduces New Greenhouse, AP Environmental Science Course


SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - The Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Science Department has fully installed a new greenhouse that will be ready for use in the 2016-17 school year and has broadened its curriculum with its offering of a new AP Environmental Science course that will be available for students next school year.

The greenhouse is located in the courtyard area of the school and will be of service for any Biology and Environmental Science classes. Now self-maintaining, the greenhouse is already filled with plants that will be taken care of throughout the summer.

Fanwood resident Thomas Hargreaves decided to generously donate the greenhouse to SPFHS in 2015. Last August, he reached out to Science Supervisor Mridula Bajaj to initiate his willingness to donate the greenhouse.

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The greenhouse, built by Hargreaves’ father, John, who passed away several years ago, was no longer being utilized by the family. In the interim, the science staff of SPFHS desired to obtain a greenhouse and add the Environmental Science course. When Mr. Hargreaves presented his wish to donate the greenhouse to the school, it was the perfect gift and addition to the science program.

The greenhouse measures to be 30 feet long with rows for plants on both sides. A meeting between science teachers, custodians and Principal Dr. Heisey of SPFHS concluded with the decision that the courtyard would be the optimal location for such a structure.

Fully reassembled in the winter of 2016, the greenhouse was moved to SPFHS and was repaired in the springtime when heating, fans, timers and a sprinkler system were all installed. The greenhouse is officially self-maintaining at this point and ready for September.

Science teachers could not be more thrilled with the donation of the greenhouse. Matthew Ritter, biology and zoology teacher at SPFHS, is already excitedly planning experiments to run in the greenhouse.

“I definitely want my students to take advantage of the opportunity to do things like grow pea plants in the greenhouse and even observe the results of genetic crossing with plants,” said Ritter.

As for Environmental Science, science teachers had also been wanting to implement the course for some time. Enough students signed up to take the course next school year to make at least two separate classes. Ritter says that “we got the green light to start the course, and the greenhouse came at the perfect time”.

This course is an accredited “AP”, or Advanced Placement course, as per the College Board. Like any AP course, students will be able to take the AP Test for Environmental Science in May.

Teachers for the new course will be Zachary Rittner and Lynn Canfield, current biology teachers. Outside of Environmental Science, other science courses offered that stray from the typical biology, chemistry and physics classes include Anatomy & Physiology, Zoology, Nutritional Science, Astronomy and Forensic Chemistry.

Ritter captured the energy currently surrounding the new greenhouse and Environmental Science course when he noted: “The plants are in, they are looking healthy and to my delight students have already approached me about projects they are interested in and ideas they have. A club at our school, the Healthy Lifestyle Club, wants to start growing plants as a means of acting on the nutritional diets they seek”. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.

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