Rain may have forced a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Applied Learning Community reading garden indoors Wednesday afternoon, but it didn't dampen the spirits of proud East Side Elementary students, who cheered heartily as the garden was declared officially open by Principal Holly Searcy.
“I hope you get a chance to look at the garden before you leave and see what a wonderful job our parents, our teachers – even our students – have done,” Searcy told the gathering, adding to students cheers, “I hope you enjoy this as we grow here with our garden.”
JISD Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell added, “It's really neat to get to see this come to fruition … probably the most very special thing, though, about it is that as an older person I get to see you be a part of something that's going to be an exciting thing for a long time. … you get to be part of something that can be used for many years to come.”
A $1,000 Jacksonville Education Foundation grant helped fund the Reading Garden, which incorporated repurposed items like bricks salvaged from the old school building and sections of tree trunk into the setting.
The school has offered the ALC program to students in kindergarten and higher grades for three years, undertaking projects that allow students the ability to bring alive what they've learned through a “concrete, hands-on” method that encourages different levels of thinking, according to a program brochure.