On a cool winter day students at Collins Elementary in Livingston exited their school for a walk-a-thon only to find their principal, John Leister, up on the roof ready to direct them. When asked how he got onto the roof Leister replied much to the children’s pleasure, “Jetpack!”
The Kindness and Respect Walk-a-thon was scheduled to help Collins raise funds for its Kindness Garden that is taking shape with “exciting design and planning meetings,” Leister says.
The motto for the school is “Kindness and Respect” and so the students took to the blacktop to walk laps around the school in the hopes of funding their project, which they wish to share with the community. Upon the completion of their laps, students, aided by Leister’s bird’s eye view, formed a giant “K” and “R” to signify the motto which is so important to them.
The funding from this event will go towards the garden project and will help to procure valuable garden materials including items such as plants, seeds, soil, garden plots and a fence. Collins has also submitted a grant proposal asking for funds to help make its garden project possible.
This event took place on Dec. 21 and was made possible through an idea that was posed to the school; “We have an incredible PTA Garden Chair, Mrs. Marrache, who introduced us to two wonderful representatives from the New York Botanical Garden,” states Leister.
The design for the garden has been established through the help of the botanists from the NY Botanical Garden who will also be giving their recommendations come planting time as to what should be cultivated in the garden.
Having a school garden provides many opportunities for children to learn by participating in an out of classroom experience and take part in something beautiful that can be shared with the community.
“We hope to give students the experience of being in nature and taking care of living things,” Leister explains. “The school has embraced concepts of healthy eating and gardening in an effort to help children understand where food comes from, to excite them about trying new fruits and vegetables, and to let them have a hands-on gardening experience.”
When the garden is completed and the students are able to cultivate their crop, some of the food the school garden produces will but donated to the community. This ongoing donation will tie in with the Collins Cares initiative.
The Collins Cares project is an ongoing school initiative which Leister states is “a series of all-school projects that we sponsor three times a year. We have collected clothing donations, food donations, and book donations.”
All Collins Cares projects are intended to be hands on for the students, giving them a chance to help change and shape the community they live in.
With the Kindness and Respect Walk-a-thon, students raised more than $7,000 towards their garden allowing them to reach their goal for the project. Donations for the walk-a-thon were raised by the students by asking for donations from family and friends.
Upon its completion the garden is set to be located near the new Media Center and “outdoor classroom,” Leister explains.
Come this spring the earth in the Kindness Garden will be tilled and ready for planting and it is certain that along with the various plants and vegetables, the students will be cultivating friendship, kindness and respect for themselves and their fellow gardeners.