Yarmouth school garden grows student mentors

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YARMOUTH — A gardening initiative launched six years ago at William H. Rowe School came full circle last week.

Seventh-graders from Harrison Middle School who first planted tulips in Rowe School’s Rainbow Garden in 2012 returned to help first-graders replenish it Oct. 25.

The middle-schoolers also each brought along their favorite children’s book to read to their first-grade partners and completed an origami project with the younger students.

The idea for the inter-school collaboration was sparked when Amy Sinclair, the parent of a seventh-grader involved in planting the original garden, visited Rowe School last year.

Sinclair said she thought the flowers looked “kind of sad and tired.”

“I thought, ‘we should totally replant the garden,'” she said. 

Sinclair added that when she talked to Rowe School about the replanting, staff had the idea for a partnership and thought the initiative would give seventh-graders an opportunity to be mentors while giving first-graders “ownership of a garden.”

Joan Adler, principal of Harrison Middle School, echoed that sentiment. She said she thought the collaboration was a “spectacular” idea and spoke to the benefits of giving students mentorship opportunities.

The middle school has a buddy program between fifth- and eighth-grade students, she said, designed by eighth-grade teachers years ago. Participants meet once a month to “go on adventures” and work together.

She said such instances build empathy and understanding in students.

“Any time in this district that there is an (opportunity for) a student (that was) the mentee to come full circle and be the mentor is a phenomenal thing,” she said. “We’re just talking about any and all opportunities we have to create that same piece.”

Adler added she is grateful to Sinclair for creating the opportunity and the two schools will “see where it goes” in the years to come.

First-grade teacher Jean Lee, who supervised while her class made origami tulips with the seventh-grade guests Thursday, said she also thinks the collaboration is beneficial because of how little time students spend at Rowe School.

“Rowe is only K-1,” she said. “These kids leave Rowe School so early compared to other communities and now they’re coming back to their school to work on it together – so I think that’s wonderful.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 780-9123 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente

First-grader Tino James, left, and seventh-grade student Sam Bradford plant tulips together at the William H. Rowe School’s Rainbow Garden Oct. 25 in Yarmouth. Behind them, parent volunteer Amy Sinclair helps two students. 

Seventh-grade students from Harrison Middle School returned to William H. Rowe School Oct. 25 to help first-graders replant the school’s Rainbow Garden. The seventh-graders planted the original garden in 2012.

Seventh-grade students from Harrison Middle School returned to William H. Rowe School Oct. 25 to help first-graders replant the school’s Rainbow Garden. The seventh-graders planted the original garden in 2012.

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