Sunset Elementary School kindergarten student Layne Tupa receives potting soil Thursday for his plant project at Moffat County High School’s vocational agriculture building. Tupa and the rest of the Sunset student body were each given a terra cotta pot that they then painted. MCHS horticulture students provided the elementary school students with flowers and helped the younger children plant them throughout the day Thursday.

Photo by Ben McCanna

Sunset Elementary School kindergarten student Layne Tupa receives potting soil Thursday for his plant project at Moffat County High School’s vocational agriculture building. Tupa and the rest of the Sunset student body were each given a terra cotta pot that they then painted. MCHS horticulture students provided the elementary school students with flowers and helped the younger children plant them throughout the day Thursday.

MCHS students assist elementary school with gardening project

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Sunset Elementary School kindergartener Paityn Cox receives a flower for planting from Moffat County High School senior Jessica Wiseman. Cox was among the 300 Sunset students who worked Thursday at placing plants in painted pots with the help of MCHS students. The potted plants are available for parents to purchase through the elementary school or at the Mother’s Day Bazaar on May 7 at Centennial Mall.

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Eric Macks, a Sunset Elementary School kindergarten student, glances at classmate Cameron Seanz’s handiwork as the two fill their painted pots with soil and flowers provided by the Moffat County High School agriculture department. MCHS students assisted the younger students with the project Thursday.

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Sunset Elementary School kindergartener Alexis Jones tends to the flower in her painted pot.

Moffat County High School senior Jessica Wiseman hopes to someday work with children as a career.

But, not everything about that line of work is easy on the first attempt, she concedes.

So, for now, she’s planting seeds, both literally and figuratively.

The literal seeds have sprouted into the flowers that have been growing in the MCHS greenhouses for the last few weeks. The figurative kind may not yield results for years, but with the right amount of TLC, they’ll make for a bumper crop.

MCHS horticulture students showed Sunset Elementary School students the fun side of getting their hands dirty this week, as the two different groups worked together potting plants.

Terra cotta pots, provided by Sunset’s School Accountability Committee, were distributed to every kindergarten through fifth-grade student in the school. Students painted the pots in spring colors as part of an ongoing art project.

Hunter Kenney, 6, painted his pot red, white and blue.

“It’s got a lot of shapes on it,” he said. “It’s got hearts and circles and my handprints.”

Kindergarten teacher Amy Jones said community member Amy Peck helped arrange for the SAC to purchase the pots.

“She deserves a lot of kudos, and so does our art teacher, Steve Martinson, for helping the kids design them,” she said.

But, getting the pots ready on the outside was only half the job.

To handle the inside, Sunset students paid a visit Thursday to the MCHS vocational agriculture building, where horticulture students were on hand to help them fill their colorful containers with something equally nice to look at: flowers.

MCHS students provided their younger counterparts with dusty millers, geraniums, petunias and pansies to nurture in their individual pots. They also gave them a hand in arranging the plants with plenty of potting soil.

As one of the student managers of the greenhouse, MCHS senior Mary Penner is responsible for trimming, watering, rotating and fertilizing the program’s plants.

She described the direction provided to the elementary students this week.

“We basically give them their flower, tell them how to plant it and when to plant it,” Penner said. “We also talk to them about the general rules with plants.”

Penner said working with the elementary students was “really fun.”

“Some of them will say, ‘Oh, I’ve got a garden,’ stuff like that, but I think they all like coming up and doing stuff like this with high schoolers,” she said.

For Wiseman, spending time with the Sunset students plays into her post-high school plans.

“I want to become an elementary teacher, so I want to do as much elementary stuff as I can do,” she said. “Every time I work with elementary schoolers, it makes me more confident about what I want to do.”

Penner and Wiseman’s instructor, John Haddan, said he was proud to see his students teaching other students.

“It’s really a good learning experience for both ages,” he said. “The Sunset kids have really had a good time and the high school kids have had a nice time interacting with them. We look forward to doing this project every year with them.”

Kindergarten teacher Sara Linsacum said she hopes to make the first-year project an annual activity. She added that her class was excited about the chance to spend time with older students.

“These kids look up so much to the high school kids,” she said. “It’s just an all-around great way to give back to the community. It actually went really well with our units, studying about the earth and the environment and plants. It’s a great project for them all.”

The finished pots, complete with flowers, are available for parents to purchase from the school.

Parents are given the opportunity to buy their child’s own work first.

Sunset Elementary will also sell potted plants for $20 at Centennial Mall’s Mother’s Day Bazaar May 7, as well as any that are left over at Grande Old West Days this summer.

The funds raised will go back to both Sunset and MCHS.

Jones said the money made by the project was only part of the benefits.

“It’s such an opportunity for the older kids to show what they know, and the younger kids really thrive from having an older student show it to them,” she said. “Hopefully, this is something our kids will have a memory of for a long time, and maybe they’ll be teaching someday.”

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