MEREDITH — Friday is the deadline for parents to turn in order forms for garden kits for their Inter-Lakes Elementary School students to use when the school has its community-funded “Living Classroom” in place this fall.
The “classroom” will be a greenhouse that gives students the opportunity to learn in a hands-on, experiential manner, school officials said. More than a place to grow things, it will be used for a wide range of teaching and learning experiences including reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.
It was the idea school Principal Stephen Kelly, who said the genesis of the project was a hermit crab.
“I had some students that I wasn’t reaching; so much of what we do involves a Number 2 pencil and just listening and reading,” Kelly said.
“I gave these kids hermit crabs that they were now responsible for, and they loved it, they just took off in all of their courses. So I began to think, what kind of new classroom, with responsibility and ownership for the kids, can we create?”
“It’s a wonderful idea, it shows Dr. Kelly’s great vision for education,” Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond Ormond said.
All grades of the school will have the opportunity to use the greenhouse. At 24x48 feet, it will be large enough to accommodate one class of about 20 students at a time. The greenhouse will use solar technology, including subterranean heating, and will be open year-round, school officials said.
The greenhouse, which will come in kit form, will cost $65,000. The school board this week allotted $20,000 for the project, and the rest of the money is coming from private donors, said Assistant Superintendent Trish Temperino. The school is also seeking government grants.
The Meredith Rotary Club has donates $10,000 to the greenhouse, and local developer Rusty McLear has also donated $10,000, she said.
“It’s very much a community-wide project,” Temperino said.
Kelly said the school has raised $50,000 of the needed funds. “And I would be very happy if it all comes from private funds,” he said.
The primary use for the greenhouse will be growing things. But what is grown and how well it grows will be up to students, Kelly said.
“They’re already involved, they are researching it, it’s really catching on. And it’s going to be a reality,” Kelly said.
This week, notices went home to parents of the greenhouse with some sample garden kits. Parents have been asked to use the order form on the back of the notice to purchase kits, and to return the orders by Friday.