Students take care of school grounds

March 10, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - While most of the two dozen youngsters, parents and teachers who gathered recently for the first spring meeting of the Williamsport Elementary School garden club were thinking flowers and tools, Jake Quigley had his eye on the ball.

The enthusiastic 8-year-old thinks flowers are all well and good, but he would like to see a bright, shiny reflection ball added somewhere to the landscape at his newly renovated school on Clifton Drive.

The club, made up of pint-sized gardeners and a few interested adults, has taken over the care and maintenance of the expanded grounds around the school.


Under the watchful eye of second-grade teacher Doug Higgins, the garden club was formed last fall, mainly out of necessity.

"We decided something had to be done," Higgins said. "The landscape part of the $8.5 renovation at the school was going to pot so we got together and organized the garden club."

Yard work

The club began its work last September and October with about 25 to 30 garden club members raking and gathering leaves in the courtyard area, filling more than 50 bags in two outings.

"We had a great time," Higgins said.

He said many of the leaves had to be fished out of the pond and stream area ... along with several members of the club.

The club was begun with a core group of students, teachers and a few parents, and membership has steadily grown, Higgins said. The hope is to involve more students, parents and other members of the community.

The 44-year-old elementary school has approximately 500 kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Renovations completed in fall 2003 included new kindergarten classrooms, new playground equipment, a new art room, a music room and stage, air conditioning, a gymnasium and a cafeteria.

Once the library, reception area and classrooms were completed, the expanded courtyard was not maintained, Higgins said.

Supplies solicited

First on the agenda at the February meeting was a letter-writing campaign aimed at area nurseries and chain stores that carry gardening supplies.

"The students are writing to about eight different stores asking for donations," said Diahann Bryan, a fifth-grade teacher and member of the garden club.

The youngsters at Bryan's table wrote to Lowe's seeking rakes, garden gloves, plants, bulbs and the reflection ball that Jake wants. Caroline Holt, 10, did the writing while Bryan, Jake and Renee Barnes, 9, contributed suggestions.

"I think the garden club is neat," Renee said.

The club meets once a month. Its goal is to make Williamsport Elementary School more beautiful, Higgins said. The group had a bake sale to raise money for its projects.

"We have about $400 in our account right now but we need to save some of that for the rededication of some plaques that were displaced during the renovations," he said.

Former teachers and others had been remembered over the years with plaques around the grounds.

During the winter months, members made doorknob hangers for Williamsport Retirement Village but back-to-back snowstorms kept them from delivering them, Higgins said.

Now that spring is just around the corner, plans are being made to work on the butterfly garden and around the bio-retention pond on the school grounds.

Interested students can see Higgins at school to sign up. Parents and community members are invited to e-mail Higgins at

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