SUMMIT, NJ - Washington Elementary School held its second annual Garden Celebration on Wednesday, providing students and parents the opportunity to see what creativity, collaboration and some green thumbs can produce.
The school's gardens are the brainchild of Washington teachers Natalie Cassidy and Cindy Hedin, both of whom are master gardeners. What began as just a butterfly garden has blossomed into a complete array of plants and vegetables providing another opportunity for students to learn and interact outdoors.
At an assembly held at the school's outdoor Readers Theater, Lauren Banker, now in her 11th year as Washington principal, told assembled parents and students that "this garden has grown out of the minds, hearts and hands of our children", and said that the gardens and the project "feed our souls."
Banker explained that student curriculum in the areas of match, science and and literature are woven into the effort through activities such as graphing, journaling, as well as exploration and observation. "It integrates experiential learning in the real world with their classroom lessons."
Each grade set about growing different plant and vegetables, with the first grade partnering with the fifth grade on a bean garden. The second graders worked on a friendship garden, third graders produced a pea garden, and the fourth graders producing a salad garden, the yield of which will be eaten at a salad party the last day of school.
In addition, their was an arts component to the project led by art teacher Jaimie Bass. Burlap-stuffed and clay owls (the school mascot), sunflower bowls, smashed-can art, Picasso face tiles, and clay cupcakes were on display for all to see,