Sumner Students to Visit White House Garden
A group of Sumner Elementary students and educators will receive first-hand advice from First Lady Michelle Obama on the best fruits and vegetables for the school garden they will plant this spring. Five students, three teachers and the principal will travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the planting of the White House Kitchen Garden on Monday, March 26. This will be the fourth year Mrs. Obama has planted the garden as a way to start a conversation about children’s health.
Sumner’s plans for a school garden began as a literacy project called One School, One Book. Everyone in the school – students, teachers, support staff and PTA members – read “First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew,” by Robbin Gourley in November. Teachers and community volunteers shared information with classes about gardening and healthy eating. The project expanded when teachers found ways to make connections to math, science and social studies. Some classrooms started small gardens of their own or used math skills to determine the area, perimeter and square footage needed for a garden like the one at the White House.
“The school community was moved by reading the book and learning more about healthy eating,” said Principal Thyais Maxwell. “We contacted the GCS Maintenance Department for help with clearing an area for us to begin a school garden. Hilltop Farms, an organic farm in Willow Springs, N.C., donated 72 plants to assist us with our service-learning goal of healthy living.”
Students wrote letters to Mrs. Obama to tell her about their plans for the school garden and to ask her advice on what to plant. “Thank you for encouraging America to eat better and live healthier,” one letter said. “We hope that people continue to eat healthier. Because of your actions, our school is planning on starting a garden.”
In response, third-graders Caden Alford, Makayla Coleman, Jajhayra Fonceca-Roque, Keenan Haith and Jason Leon, teachers Ann McSwain, Jonathan Mills and Karen Partridge, and Principal Thyais Maxwell were invited to the White House garden planting. They will depart for Washington, D.C., by Amtrak train on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and will return Tuesday evening.
Sumner Elementary is located in Greensboro, N.C. The school’s 535 students come from diverse cultures and backgrounds. More than 85 percent of students qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program, a common indicator of poverty.