By Denise Connolly
Last spring 2015, was an amazing time for students at West Patent Elementary School thanks to Charlie Kleinsmith and Joseph Ruggiero, our very first Environmental Educators and Aspire students from Fox Lane High School. Forst and Foremost, Charlie and Joseph were in charge of planning, buying, planting and maintaining the Learning Garden. They met with our Garden Committee on several occasions to discuss what to plant in our theme based garden boxes, where to but the best plants and how to plant them. Every student in school was involved in amending soil and planting seeds and plants. Our interns made sure to water religiously during dry spells.
Students who selected “Garden and Wildlife Club” for their enrichment class were also involved more deeply in plant experiments, composting and maintaining the garden by weeding, staking plants and planting sprouts that were started indoors. Students in the second grade enrichment groups studied the importance of water and how to catch water using alternative methods. They watched in amazement as Charlie and Joseph built our brand new Greenhouse Shed and attached two rain barrels to the gutters to collect water. The shed will serve two purposes, storage of garden tools and a place for students to start seedlings in the late winter months.
Finally, under the supervision of Ms. Connolly, The Aspire Interns ran three outdoor workshops: “The Plight of the Honey Bee”, Sustainable Fishing” and “Camping and Hiking”. Students in grades 3-5 chose one 45 minute workshop in which to participate and got hands on opportunities to try on a bee keepers gloves and hat, examine fishing lures, and take a hike and examine camping gear. Our very first Aspire Interns Charlie and Joseph were a huge hit and an inspiration to keep this internship program moving forward in the future.