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Waterville Alternative School In The News

posted May 5, 2017, 8:26 AM by Floyd Wygant   [ updated May 7, 2017, 8:21 AM ]

Independent Living: “Being Green” Class Awarded Grant and Builds Compost Bin


Last fall our “Being Green” class welcomed ecomaine’s Katrina Venhuizen to address our school on the importance of recycling.  During her visit, she informed the “Being Green” teacher, Linda Nichols, about ecomaine’s School Recycling Grant.  In addition to taking responsibility for the existing recycling program at the Alt School, our class decided that addressing the food waste that our cafeteria produces was equally as important.  Together, we wrote a detailed project outline describing our plans for the grant money and applied for the grant.  

We Won The Grant!

In December we received the news that the Waterville Alternative School was one of several Maine schools to be awarded an ecomaine School Recycling Grant.  We received a grant in the amount of $1,000.00!  After a field trip to Home Depot to buy materials to build our own three-compartment compost bin, our class began construction.  Because of the lack of power tools in our building, Mark Champagne and students at the Mid-Maine Technical Center helped us out by cutting all of the lumber and the corrugated fiberglass that Alt students measured in preparation.  Thanks, guys!

Winter Blues

This winter posed quite the challenge for our compost project - most of the construction had to take place in sections in our small classroom.  Also, because of the depth of the snow, we had to wait for melting to occur before we could place the bin in the chosen location on campus.  The building process proved to be a blast!  The students loved the hands-on experience, and those with carpentry skills really had the opportunity to shine!  We finished the construction the day before April vacation, and on the day we returned, we were finally able to place the bin in the desired location.  We officially began composting our food waste this week!

Working with the Preschoolers from The Children’s Place

Our ultimate goals for our compost project is to decrease the amount of food waste we generate at the Alt School and to eventually produce fertile compost material to add to the existing Children’s Place organic raised bed gardens on our campus at The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers on Silver Street.  In addition, we have been working with Becky Judd, director of the Teen Parent Program, and Mandi Howard, director of The Children’s Place, to bring together preschoolers and our alt students in a cooperative learning opportunity focusing on growing our own healthy and organic foods from seed.  Thanks to a Healthy Waterville Mini Grant that Becky and Mandi were awarded, and our ecomaine grant, we have been able to join forces and resources in an effort to build several additional raised bed gardens and to purchase gardening supplies and classroom greenhouses.

One of our collaborative activities involved our students reading stories about planting seeds to the preschoolers and creating artwork based on the stories’ themes.  Since then, we have purchased seeds from the Hall School, and have been fortunate to have the assistance of representatives from Johnny’s Selected Seeds who joined us last week in planting seeds (some of which they donated).  The preschoolers and the high schoolers worked side-by-side planting a variety of organic vegetable seeds, as well as flowers, in trays to germinate in our classroom greenhouses.  Some have already started to sprout!

Building and Planting Our New Gardens

Currently, we are getting materials together to build our larger raised bed gardens.  We are hoping to finish the construction project within the next week or two.  Again, we will be assisted by master gardeners from Johnny’s Selected Seeds when we direct seed our gardens and when we plant our seedlings.  

Building Community

Not only have we been building structures for our organic gardening endeavor, but we have also been building a sense of community at our Silver Street campus.  Staff from the various organizations are collaborating, and students of all ages are working together in an effort to grow our own organic food.  In addition, we are beautifying the grounds in the process.  It has been a win-win situation for all!