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SLE group receives Renaissance award for gardens

July 12, 2011SLE Garden

The Monticello Central School District Supportive Learning Environment (SLE) group won a $1,000 grant award from the Sullivan County Renaissance Organization to improve the appearance of the landscape outside of the main entrance of the high school.

The focus of the project was to modify the existing garden and to plant a new garden to the left of the main entrance. This project was chosen as the result of a district-wide survey that assessed the school climate.

The SLE team has worked on projects as a way to increase the connection between students and faculty, as well as to foster a more positive school climate. The team includes students from the middle school - Michele Rodriguez, Victoria Turner and Mandi Wright and high school - David Ambra, Jaclyn Bellamy, Amber Grobusch, Brianna McKinney, Katie Michel, Brittany Rupp (Eco Club) and Rachelle Walker. School psychologist Dr. Debbie Edwards and Pupil Personnel Services administrator Shari Biro worked along side the students and were assisted by staff members from SC Renaissance and the school district's plant operations department. Gay Donofrio of Perennial Gardens volunteered her time, staff and machinery for the planting of the trees.

Thanks to the grant, the SLE had the opportunity to plant various flowers and trees in an effort to make the school more appealing. SLE GardenThe flowers and trees were purchased from Manza Family Farm and the Monticello Greenhouse. Additional plants were donated by staff members and the Monticello Greenhouse. This project was a great success despite the continuous rainy weather, as the group was determined to finish what they had started.

“A garden can make an impact on a school," said student SLE member Michele Rodriguez. "It may have been hard work, but in the end, it paid off.”

High school student Rachelle Walker expressed how much she and her fellow students appreciated the grant and how they were extremely thankful because it "allowed the SLE committee to progress and take leaps in our journey to improve our school community.”

The two gardens have significantly changed the appearance of the high school main entrance. The SLE team hopes that they make the building more inviting to visitors and community members, and instills pride in those who work and attend school here.