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Precious Blood, USF join forces on garden

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Garden party

Most Precious Blood School, 1529 Barthold St., will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Discovery Garden at 11:45 a.m. Friday.

Guests expected include Mayor Tom Henry; Fort Wayne Police Department Capt. P.J. Smith; Gary Bard, interim dean of the University of Saint Francis School of Arts and Sciences; and Donna Rogler, Project Learning Tree Coordinator for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry.

It's designed to teach students in all subject areas, at all grade levels.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - 12:01 am

A simple garden is helping students learn at Most Precious Blood Catholic School.

OK, maybe a garden with computer sensors isn't so simple, but it's definitely effective.

With the help of a $5,000 grant from GreenWorks! Connecting Community Action and Service-Learning, the University of Saint Francis has teamed up with Precious Blood to create a Discovery Garden, which provides hands-on learning experiences in all academic areas.

“To teach kids about nature, physically outside, how exciting is that,” said Leslie Hamilton, a recent Saint Francis graduate who applied for the grant and developed the idea with the help of her professor, Teri Beam. The grant was one of 43 awarded in the country, from more than 2,000 applications.

With the garden, on which they began work April 17, Precious Blood students in preschool through Grade 8 can learn about math, English, social studies, science and technology.

“It can be something as simple as counting the seeds,” said Principal Alexandria Bergman.

“It goes across grade levels,” added kindergarten teacher Darcy Quinn.

The garden, on school grounds, includes a pond, a waterfall, native Indiana plants and flowers, vegetables, computer sensors, and steppingstones, and it has the potential to get bigger.

“It's not for us. It's for (the students). They get to watch this garden grow for years,” Hamilton said.

Saint Francis students have been volunteering to work with the Precious Blood students to cultivate the ground, as well as to teach the students about the garden.

“Our focus is to get the kids outside,” Beam said.

Hamilton and Beam hope to bring gardens to other Catholic schools around the community to further those schools' educational opportunities in the same way. Beam says St. Jude Elementary School is next.

“(The garden) will change depending on what part of the community they're in,” Hamilton said. “The idea is to look at the schools and what they have to offer.”

Precious Blood hopes to use its garden year-round. Even during the winter months when nothing may be growing, animals will still be attracted to the area.

“You don't have to be extreme to make a difference,” Hamilton said.