Education Matters: East High School

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East High School’s Environmental Key club and literacy students are among 10 finalists for the Ford Stem Community Challenge.

Two winning proposals will receive $10,000 and six others could receive $5,000.  East’s project combines reading with gardening to benefit both students and the community.

RockfordBuzz.com helped students produce a video to apply for a grant.  Their goal?

“[Our goal is] to show what a diverse community East High School is,” said Jacob Bradt.

The mission is part of a unique summer program combining literacy and gardening.

“[We work] with the students in the garden,” said Jackie de Batista, the University of Illinois Extension’s 4H Youth Development Educator.  “[We help] them with the planting, providing an overall look at why it’s important to work on green spaces at school.

“We weed, we water, we do what we need to do,” said Cecile Flowers, advisor for the Key Club and a retired teacher.  “We harvest.  We get to donate all of it.”

Project organizers have big plans if they win the grant.

“A greenhouse… extend our garden a little bit, so that way we could work year round and produce food without having to take a break at the end of the fall and the beginning of spring,” said Key Club President Clayton Morrison.

Teachers hope the project will inspire students to look at science as a career.

“We want them to really expand their mind and not just look at it as a summer garden,” said William Rose, East’s Academy Coach.  “They could potentially [do this] as a career.”

Voting for the Ford Stem Community Grant is now closed.  Winners will be announced April 19th.

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