Find­ing their green thumbs

Chris­tiana stu­dents gain ex­pe­ri­ence through plant sale

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON

Be­fore she took a plant science class, Anaiyah Hug­gins couldn’t pic­ture her­self work­ing in the gar­den.

“I thought plant­ing was nasty,” the Chris­tiana High School sopho­more said.

How­ever, teacher Katie Phillips made her roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty. As she and her class­mates helped pre­pare for the school’s an­nual plant sale, Hug­gins learned to em­brace her green thumb.

“It’s fun,” she said Satur­day as she worked in the green­house dur­ing the plant sale.

Hug­gins’ ex­pe­ri­ence is com­mon for the ap­prox­i­mately 90 stu­dents in Chris­tiana’s three plant science classes, said Phillips, who is in her sec­ond year run­ning the pro­gram.

“Th­ese are not your typ­i­cal farm kids,” she said. “They are from the in­ner-city and sub­urbs. They come to me hav­ing never touched a plant or dirt.”

She said she tries to em­pha­size the im­por­tance plants play in the stu­dents’ lives.

“You breathe, wear clothes and eat,” she said. “Plants do all that for you.”

The stu­dents be­gan work for the plant sale in Jan­uary, when they got the plants as tiny “plugs” and planted them in pots and hang­ing bas­kets.

“We planted for like two

months, ev­ery day,” Phillips said, not­ing the 18,000 flower and veg­etable plants filled all three of the school’s green­houses.

Dur­ing the three-day plant sale, the stu­dents did the mar­ket­ing, as­sisted cus­tomers and rang up or­ders.

“They have to learn to work to­gether to make it run smoothly,” Phillips said, not­ing the pro­ceeds from the sale go into a fund that helps pay for a field trip to Long­wood Gar­dens, among other things.

Left­over plants are used to land­scape school grounds and form a com­mu­nity veg­etable gar­den, the crop from which is do­nated to Lit­tle Sis­ters of the Poor.

Sopho­more Jackie Lon­go­ria said she had never worked with plants be­fore she got in­volved with the sale last year.

“I en­joy plant­ing and help­ing cus­tomers,” she said. “I’m go­ing to be here ev­ery year.”

Tyreese Grant, also a sopho­more, said the plant sale taught him team­work.

“We work to­gether, and it’s for a good cause,” he said.

While new to Chris­tiana, Fresh­man Lorena Lon­go­ria did have ex­pe­ri­ence in agri­cul­ture science in mid­dle school. On Satur­day, she was hav­ing fun work­ing the plant sale.

“I guess I just like plants,” she said, adding, “You have to work re­ally hard.”

Se­nior Robin Baker, pres­i­dent of Chris­tiana’s chap­ter of Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica, plans to pur­sue a de­gree in agri­cul­ture ed­u­ca­tion at Delaware Val­ley Col­lege. As a 4-H par­tic­i­pant, Baker is no stranger to gar­den­ing but said the plant sale helped teach her “a lot of pa­tience talk­ing to cus­tomers and mak­ing sure they’re happy.”

“I just like be­ing out­side work­ing with plants and live­stock,” she said.

She said she is glad Chris­tiana of­fers agri­cul­ture classes in ad­di­tion to the more tra­di­tional sub­jects.

“I came to high school ready for ag,” she said.

Fresh­man Aliyanna Robin­son also wants to go into agri­cul­ture ed­u­ca­tion.

She noted that she and some of her class­mates took turns com­ing in to school over the week­end to wa­ter the plants, but in the end it was all worth it, “see­ing all your hard work and see­ing all the pretty flow­ers that end up.”


Sopho­more Tyreese Grant works in the Chris­tiana High School green­house dur­ing Satur­day’s plant sale.


Sopho­more Jackie Lon­go­ria works in the Chris­tiana High School green­house dur­ing Satur­day’s plant sale.

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