Hampton Roads Academy receives grant to enhance Lower School Garden

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HRA Lower School students work together to water the plants.
HRA Lower School students work together to water the plants.

Newport News – Hampton Roads Academy has been selected as a recipient of the 2016 Eat. Learn. Live. & Grow School Garden Grant, sponsored by Chartwells K12 in partnership with KidsGardening.org. HRA was selected based on the viability of its proposed garden plan, as well as its creativity and ability to bring together the classroom and community. The school will use the $1,000 grant to enhance the Lower School Garden.

“The Eat. Learn. Live. & Grow grant is enabling us to complete the final piece of the puzzle, taking the foods we have grown in the garden and safely preparing them so that the children can actually experience them and discover what a sun-ripened tomato or a fresh snap bean really tastes like,” said Jennifer Massengill, Lower School Science and Technology Teacher. “The benefits of having a school garden are endless. We’re teaching our kids about healthy eating and where their food comes from as part of our curriculum, and they’re learning valuable lessons on responsibility, patience, teamwork, persistence and sustainability at the same time,” commented Susanne Swain, Head of Lower School.

HRA's Lower School Garden sits behind the school's athletic facility.
HRA’s Lower School Garden sits behind the school’s athletic facility.

In 2016, Chartwells K12 and KidsGardening.org used their exclusive partnership to create the Eat. Learn. Live. & Grow School Garden Grant and Webinar Series in response to identified areas of need in funding and expertise to support school gardens. Across the country, 23 K-12 schools were selected to participate in the $27,500 grant program to establish or further support an existing garden.

“We’re thrilled to be able to support Hampton Roads Academy through the Eat. Learn. Live. & Grow School Garden Grant and we look forward to seeing how they incorporate the garden into students’ education and personal development,” said Rhonna Cass, CEO of Chartwells K12. “We were inspired by the number and quality of submissions we received. It shows there’s an intense desire around the country for health education and as a leader in childhood nutrition, our work is far from done.”

Massengill further explained, “The Lower School garden highlights environmental responsibility through hands-on learning. The garden provides an outdoor classroom where every student in Lower School can have real-world experience with environmental stewardship, and see the positive effect that the students themselves can have on the world around them through the choices they make. It also provides them with the opportunity to connect with nature while applying the lessons they have learned in the classroom as they plant, grow and harvest a variety of natural, healthy foods.”

Hampton Roads Academy plans to advance their garden in the spring of 2017.

Submitted by Charlotte McMahon

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