WHEN EAST MIDDLE School's sixth-graders came back from outdoor school completely enthused about nature, there was only one thing to do."Strike while the iron is hot," said Heather Goodhart, the school's Integrated Language Arts specialist, who helped shape that excitement into the creation of a butterfly garden at the Westminster school.
The pupils applied for a $500 grant from the Hashawha Environmental Center designed to provide outdoor gardens at schools, Goodhart said."The kids had to write it," she said, adding the application entailed answering questions such as why are you doing this project, what value will it be for wildlife, and how will this habitat be used by you and future classes.
The pupils then used print resources and the Internet to learn about butterflies and determine what types of plants would be necessary to attract the insects year round, Goodhart said.
Finally, the youngsters studied catalogs to determine how much it would cost to plant the 5-by-30-foot garden they'd designed on graph paper."We did it in reading, because we were applying reading strategies to the material," Goodhart said.
For instance, the children applied a technique called the "backpack strategy" to pre-read the information before they actually studied it, she said.
In addition, they used their reading skills while working with the seed catalogs and refined their note-taking skills throughout the project, Goodhart said."It was so great to have an authentic learning activity," she said. "We were actually planning a garden, rather than pretending we were going to have a garden."
Finally, on Friday, 20 pupils planted a butterfly bush, black-eyed Susans, daisies, marigolds and other flowers in the plot that sits on the east side of the school, facing the playing fields."The kids are so enthusiastic," Goodhart said."This has given them community pride, school pride, a sense of belonging and ownership in the school," she said."I'm so glad that [Principal Bronson] Jones allowed us to do this."
Hit the water
The official opening of the Westminster Community Pool is noon Saturday. The pool is at 325 Royer Road.
Regular hours for the pool, which will be open until Sept. 4, are noon until 7 p.m. weekends until school lets out in June. Once summer vacation begins, the pool will be open during those same hours seven days a week.
Seasonal pool memberships are $150 for families and $90 for individuals (Westminster residents). Memberships are $200 per family and $105 for individuals (non-residents).
Registration for Red Cross swimming lessons is from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 30, 31 and June 1 at the pool. Classes, which cover levels ranging from Water Exploration to Skill Proficiency, are a half hour each and will be given between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. during one of three sessions: June 26 to July 7; July 10-14, and July 17-28.
Fees are $20 per person or $43 for a family of three or more (Westminster residents). Non-resident fees are $23 per individual or $48 for a family of three or more. Parents or legal guardians must complete registration in person.
Amy L. Miller's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.