Bright fluorescent bulbs shine on rows of green, leafy plants growing in Jessie Irwin’s classroom.
“Who wants to help carry these outside to the greenhouse?” Irwin calls out to her students in her Horticulture Science class at Duncanville High School.
After living in a climate-controlled classroom since late February, students carried the seedlings outside to eventually be planted in the school’s garden.
“For me, it’s interesting,” said first-year horticultural student Virginia Espinoza. “It’s like you have this little thing and it lays dormant for so long and then, poof! You have a living thing.”
The students are growing vegetables including peppers, zucchini, spaghetti squash and herbs. Those are destined to be donated to the high school’s culinary class.
Flowering plants are being grown to beautify the courtyard at DHS. Students cleaned out the raised planter and drew up a landscaping plan that will add color and texture to the previously neglected space.
“I think it makes them proud,” Irwin said. “They can become very protective. They tell their friends, ‘I did that. Don’t touch that. Don’t walk through there.’”
Mrs. Irwin says she has received calls from parents who tell her that her teaching is carrying over into what their students are doing at home.
“They say, ‘They won’t stop talking about the class and now they’re planting stuff in my yard!’” Irwin said.
Sophomore Jayla Coleman says she has helped her grandmother garden at home and enjoys learning more about it in class.
“It’s hands-on,” Coleman said. “I like that we get to do it at the school.”
Irwin’s students are using their skills to work on a larger project - growing plants to spruce up the entries of other schools in the district. Irwin says when she offered the service, she received an overwhelming response.
“Everybody wanted it at their school,” Irwin said.
The students plan to start with a few schools this year and take their landscaping to additional schools next year.