Clover students help grow a garden with hammers and nails

news@enquirerherald.comNovember 28, 2013 

— Clover High School student Luke Holmes has learned to mix and pour concrete, set footings, put up trusses and much more.

For the past several months, Holmes and about 20 other building construction students at Clover High’s career and technology center have been building a large covered area at the center of the Gloria Reid Memorial Garden at Clover Middle School.

Clover Middle teacher Morgan Lombardo, one of the organizers of the project, said the aim was to make the project a collaborative effort between Clover Middle and Clover High schools.

“We are using our resources within the district,” she said. “And using the talents of our students. A lot of people don’t realize how talented they are until they see what they can build.”

The project to establish a garden and outdoor classroom was launched three years ago in honor of Reid, a former Clover Middle School teacher’s assistant who died after a long battle with cancer soon after the garden was dedicated. Reid taught at the school for more than 30 years.

The garden has been evolving with new features ever since it was established. Lombardo said the students at the middle school use the garden as an outdoor classroom to conduct experiments on plants and learn about horticulture techniques.

The area is also used as a weather data collection site for students to analyze weather conditions and make weather predictions.

She said Duke Energy is in the process of installing a large solar panel for students to investigate the production of electricity using green energy to be used as part of energy lessons.

“We want to create interdisciplinary lessons between both schools,” Lombardo said. “By working together, we are able to maximize our kids’ benefit.”

For construction students, the project has meant valuable hands-on experience.

Holmes, 16, who wants to be a civil engineer, said that in addition to construction techniques, he has learned about basic safety practices and laws and regulations that affect construction.

Holmes said the project has been an exercise in teamwork.

“It helps the kids at the school, so they can have their class outside,” he said. “And it helps us as students to educate ourselves about building construction.”

James Baggett, 16, said he had no construction experience before this.

“It’s fun to do something that looks amazing afterward,” he said. “I just love building.”

Cody Huffstetler, 16, also has enjoyed working on the project.

“It’s fun. You learn to do all kinds of hands-on stuff,” he said.

Eddie Clinton, a building construction teacher at the school, said the project is good experience no matter what field a student chooses to pursue.

“It’s real life. If they don’t go into construction or carpentry, it helps them in other trades,” he said.

Community sponsors have included Siemens Energy, Lowe’s, York County Soil and Water Conservation District, Stacy’s Greenhouses, River Hills Lions Club, Lee’s Nursery, and the Clover LEAF foundation.

Siemens’ $2,500 donation funded building materials for a garden shed and Lowes’ $5,000 donation funded building materials for the construction of a pergola, and provided gardening equipment.

Building and construction students at the high school researched, designed and built both the storage shed and pergola. Engineering students also cut metal name plates to display the names of sponsors.

About 350 Clover middle and high school students worked on projects related to the garden, expected to be an ongoing project.

Lombardo said the school needs to provide more room for students to grow plants. She said more than 200 students are growing onions, corn, strawberries, beans, and ferns in small cups on lab counters. She said they need to see real examples of how plants grow.

She also said the garden will be more than a place to grow plants. The visions, she said, is to involve as many students as possible to help build and maintain the garden. For example, she said, master gardeners could teach classes there and local Scout groups could conduct projects.

Lombardo said she expects the garden will continue to grow and evolve even after the main structures have been completed.

“The garden will continue to be a place that is always changing and adapting to the investigations that the students plan and conduct,” she wrote. “In a way, the garden will never be completed.”

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077

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