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Students save planet, earn green thumbs

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Condensation from the morning dew drips from this flower as Hawthorne Elementary School students turn soil to plant a garden in their outdoor classroom spaces.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Condensation from the morning dew drips from this flower as Hawthorne Elementary School students turn soil to plant a garden in their outdoor classroom spaces.

HAMPTON — Science lab instructor Burt Parker helped students pot colorful flowers at the schoolhouse entrance, while others busily pulled weeds and spread fresh top soil in the courtyard.

About 35 students were selected this week to help revitalize an outdoor classroom at Hawthorne Elementary School, where they planted about $1,000 worth of vegetation.

Tuesday’s beautification project was in partnership with Comcast. The cable company sponsored the activity, called Comcast Cares Day.

Deborah Collins is the regional joint use liaison at Comcast.

The company hosts beautification projects throughout the state, she said. They serve as opportunities to bring community together, do public service and develop gardening and landscaping skills.

Collins said the students, too, learn in the process.

“I think it’s great that the children have an opportunity to learn where their food and spices come from,” she said.

Hawthorne’s bilingual paraprofessional, Lucy Marrero, spearheaded the partnership.

She is known for her environmentally-friendly projects. She maintains the school’s paper recycling program.

“This is a way the community can get involved,” said Marrero, getting her hands dirty alongside the students. “We need to save our planet.”

Fifth-grader Nyjah Givens agreed.

“I think it’s great,” said Givens, 10. “It’s basically getting everybody together so they will want to do more. I want to start a garden now.”

Givens said she was inspired helping her classmates fill the 13 raised planting beds of vegetables, flowers and other plants.

Assisting them was the Early Intervention Program teacher Kimberly Logan.

“I think that it gives students an opportunity to get the hands-on science,” said Logan. “And I think they will be proud of the results.”

Principal Dr. Cynthia James said classes will maintain the garden and landscaping throughout the year along with the school maintenance department. She said she hopes this week’s planting activity will become annual affair.

“I think it’s awesome,” said James.