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West Patent Elementary School Students Honor Veterans with Service Projects

 West Patent student holds up the plants they cleared in the school garden

“Wait! Make sure you put the pointy side to the sky!” a student called out to her classmate, who was planting a piece of garlic in West Patent Elementary School’s Learning Garden. At the same time, another student gasped and called out “I found a centipede!”

Throughout the day on Thursday, students trekked outside to the school’s gardens to embark on an interdisciplinary adventure in honor of Veterans Day.

“Veterans Day is a day when we honor all of the people who have chosen to serve in the military,” Elementary Coordinator Denise Connelly told a group of eager third graders. She explained exactly how they were going to plant cloves of garlic — measuring two inches in the ground with their thumbs — and mark them in the garden so that they would become big garlic bulbs in the spring. “Now, where do our plants go when we harvest them?” she asked.

“The food pantry!” students answered with enthusiasm.

“That’s right! It’s a service to our community. That’s why, on important days like this, we do service projects to give back.”

Across the school in the upper garden, fourth graders were working on another garden project with help from Kathleen Keenan and Alison Muller. There, students were cleaning up garden beds and putting them to bed for the winter.

Kennan explained that students would be clipping plants, clearing leaves and putting all of the clippings into a bucket for removal. If they found any green or ripe plants, students put them aside to feed the school’s chickens.

“Our job is to clear these beds and get them ready for winter,” Muller said. “When all is clear, we’ll be covering the beds with wet cardboard. Basically, we’re setting up our garden for a long winter’s nap.”

“Now, there are six garden beds and 24 students,” Keenan said to the group. “That sounds like a math equation to me.”

After students determined they should break up into groups of four, they split into teams and got to work. There were vines to be snipped, leaves to be cleared and dead plants to be pulled. They took on the project with enthusiasm.

“Fourth grade, I need you all to give yourselves a pat on the back,” Keenan said as students prepared to head back to their classrooms. “You took on a huge project and did a fabulous job.”

students pose with American flags outside their garden