New WHS Elective Takes A Fresh Approach To Hands-On Learning

Justin Cativa, Ainsley Alder, Tornado Station, Amalia Jaramillo, Miguel Alvarez, Logan Shishkowsky, Richard Tufaro, Alyette Lopez, Alexa Walters and Kristina Shatskin.

Wellington High School has introduced a new agriscience elective for the 2022-23 school year. With the help of the Wellington Garden Club, Principal Cara Hayden, Assistant Principal Chris Romano, Wellington’s School Advisory Council, Lettuce Grow, and teachers Kristina and Gregory Shatskin, this elective has come to fruition.

The course itself is designed to teach foundational skills and understanding of agricultural sciences, and it is taught by both Mr. and Mrs. Shatskin. Their approach has been mostly hands-on, as the students spend each day in an outside learning environment and complete assignments aligned with the state standards.

In the beginning of the year, students were tasked with starting a school garden as part of a schoolwide campus beautification initiative and as a primary part of this course. In doing so, the students took a blank canvas of grass, tilled it, prepared it, bordered it and planted a flower garden to attract butterflies, bees and the occasional hummingbird.

From there, the students prepared multiple garden beds to grow vegetables and herbs. The students have been learning not only about proper use and techniques of garden tools, but planting and harvesting methods as well. The hydroponic stand that produces kale, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, parsley and oregano was donated by Lettuce Grow, and it has been pivotal in teaching the students about hydroponic gardening as an alternative to traditional farming methods.

As a result of this donation, Logan Shishkowsky, a senior at Wellington High School, was able to harvest cucumbers, pickle them, and bring them to school for his classmates to enjoy.

Not only has this course provided students with an opportunity to grow their own food and start a garden from the grass up, it has created a community within the school. Students are able to work collaboratively in an outdoor classroom where they design, create and grow together. In doing so, they must solve problems and think critically. They are learning to work together, grow their own food and value the importance of community. Because of this, the class itself has gained traction due to the opportunity to provide students with an alternative to learning in a classroom setting. They can enjoy being outdoors while working with their hands and peers.

As this class begins to grow, the school hopes to bring more awareness to growing one’s own food and healthy eating to Wellington and the surrounding communities. If you would like more information, or to make a donation to this course, contact Kristina and Gregory Shatskin at Wellington High School.