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Boardman Glenwood Junior High reaps grand garden prize

BOARDMAN — A group of students and company representatives gathered Wednesday to celebrate Boardman Glenwood Junior High School winning the grand prize in the Terracycle 2022 Brita and Meijer Recycled Garden Contest.

Terracycle is a private, U.S.-based company that takes nonrecycled waste and turns it into material for new products. The company has teamed with Meijer and Brita (The Clorox Co.) to put on the contest and Glenwood was announced as the grand prize winner.

The $15,000 package includes two 6-foot picnic tables, four 4-foot high back benches, two 32-gallon waste receptacles, lumber for three garden beds (each garden is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long by 20 inches high) to be placed on school grounds, and a $1,000 gift card to Meijer to be used for plants, soil and/or other gardening supplies.

“The tables and benches have absolutely improved our outdoor classroom in the courtyard,” Glenwood science teacher Scott Lenhart said. “They are the perfect touch. We also have used some of the gift cards to create a rain garden for our new outdoor classroom. This space is brand new and has been a goal of ours for the last several years since the pandemic hit. The materials have helped us turn it into something we never could have imagined.”

To make a place for the benches, a pavilion-type shelter was purchased through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds or ESSER, that was given to schools early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The pavilion was finished over the summer.

The science classes at Glenwood already are using the benches and tables for outdoor classes. The number of science lessons that concern the outdoors is almost endless or literally to the edge of space, teachers said.

One of the projects that will be coming this school year is an unusual tomato experiment. Glenwood received tomato seeds that came from space, possibly yielded from tomatoes on the International Space Station.

“We will be taking the seeds from space and testing them with similar type tomato seeds in a controlled environment,” said eighth-grader Lucas Beggs. “They will each be given the same amount of water and care to see if one does better.”

When asked if the experiment is a forerunner to farming on Mars, Beggs said, “We’ll see.”

Among those attending was Jerry Blasco of Blasco Commercial Services, a local landscape company. Blasco said he enjoys giving back to the school system he and his children went through.

“When I went here, students weren’t allowed in the courtyard,” he said. “Now look, it’s a classroom outdoors.”

Mark Delisio was another volunteer on hand for the ribbon cutting. He is from CT Consultants and worked with students last year for the design of the gardens. He also has children in the system.

“I’m excited for my kids to go to school here,” he said.

The contest was open to all public and private schools, colleges and universities in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Once a school was entered into the contest, it simply had to have votes from the website and Boardman Glenwood came out on top to win the grand prize. Glenwood will not be able to compete again for two years.

Representing Brita was Olivia Hart, who made the trip from Cincinnati for the ribbon cutting. She said she has been to many schools, but Glenwood impressed her with the gardens.

“I have never seen anything like this at all the schools I have been to,” she said.

BGJHS also received honors from the Arbor Day Foundation. It was named one of 70 schools in the U.S. recognized as a “Tree Campus.” The program honors schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to nature-based education. “Spending time in nature sparks children’s imaginations, improves their mental and physical health, and shapes them into lifelong environmental stewards,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “We are thrilled to see schools like Boardman Glenwood Junior High lead the way in this important work.”

To earn this distinction, Glenwood Junior High had to meet four goals: maintaining a tree campus team, creating a education plan that connects students to trees, offering hands-on experiences and holding an Arbor Day observance.

This year’s recognized schools span 31 states.

jtwhitehouse@vindy.com

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