By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Enthusiastic first and second graders at École Georges P. Vanier School stepped out of the classrooms Monday afternoon to do a little digging, a little planting and a little watering. The students paired up with classmates to plant some new perennials and shrubs at the front of the school, an outdoor horticultural exercise that is part of the school’s initiative to educate the children about the importance of community service.
“It fits into our social studies curriculum of caring,” said Vanier teacher Angelle Peacock, adding that Grade 1 students are dealing with caring for the school, while Grade 2 students are focusing on caring for the community.
But there was more to the afternoon’s exercise than merely making school and community look a little more colourful and beautiful. Peacock said the fall planting also fits in with the student’s science curriculum: the needs of plants and animals, insects and bugs.
The French immersion teacher said parent Colleen Van Brabant worked hard over the summer to solicit donations from local businesses to purchase the perennials, shrubs and peat moss to be planted in several areas at the front of the school.
“It’s going to be a whole year-long project so that the kids learn to care for the plants,” Peacock said, noting the students will study what the plants will need to survive and how they will change over the winter months, heading into spring. “With the Grade 2s, we’ll be talking about the insects and the bugs and the worms and how the insects will help facilitate the growth of the plants.”
Peacock said the hands-on approach to the subject matter will give the student’s an excellent opportunity to learn about plants and how they grow. “The kids love this,” she said. “This is real to them, and every time they drive by the school or see a plant, they’re going to know that they participated in this. This is pride.”
That sense of pride fits in well with the school’s mandate of each year selecting a community service project for students to participate in.
“Every grade level has a focus that fits in with their curriculum,” Peacock said, noting that sometimes the project is done as a grade and sometimes as a class.