Students design, execute landscaping at school system office

Published 6:21 pm Friday, September 25, 2015

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  Hampton High School students Corey Morefield, left, and Dalton Reece cut landscaping fabric to fit around a plant.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Hampton High School students Corey Morefield, left, and Dalton Reece cut landscaping fabric to fit around a plant.

Sometimes when you learn new things, you just have to get your hands dirty.
That’s the philosophy of the Agricultural Science program at Hampton High School. Students in the program have recently been working on a class project to install new landscaping around the school system’s administration building on Academy Street.
On Wednesday morning, students were planting knockout roses, crepe myrtles, bearded irises and a variety of other flowers and plants.
But the students weren’t just doing the grunt work; they actually had a hand in coming up with the landscaping design.
“The students each drew up a plan with their own ideas and then we kind of hashed it out a bit,” said Gary Keith, the agricultural science teacher at Hampton High.
As the students worked through their plans to come up with the final design, Keith guided them with his advice.
“I like to have stuff blooming in stages and I like to mix evergreen and deciduous plants,” he said, adding this helps keep the landscaping looking good year-round.
Before getting the students ready for the project, Keith said he talked with Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward over the summer to see what the school system wanted to see done with the landscaping.
“Dr. Ward wanted us to keep the rhododendrons because they have been here since the building was built,” Keith said.
With that stipulation in mind, Keith and his students designed their plan to incorporate the rhododendrons.
The students also planned two specialty flower beds – one around the sign in front and one around the historic marker for the old Duffield Academy which was the original occupant of the building.
The specialty beds feature two-toned Bearded Irises whose colors represent the school system’s four high schools – maroon and white irises for both Unaka High and Happy Valley High, dark blue and gold to represent Cloudland and light blue and white for Hampton.
“Of course we had to put the Hampton irises up front,” Keith said with a laugh.
Some of the flowers and plants used in the project were cultivated in the greenhouse at Hampton High, but others, like the specialty two-toned Bearded Irises, had to be purchased, Keith said.
As part of the program, the students study a variety of topics and skills, including agricultural science, plant science, greenhouse skills and landscaping.
To help give the students some hands on experience, Keith began having them work on landscaping projects four years ago. The students began with landscaping projects at Hampton High School, including designing the landscaping for the school’s outdoor classroom pavilion.
Keith said both he and his students are anxious to see how the project at the administration building turns out.
“Landscaping companies charge a lot more and they plant instant landscaping that is already in bloom,” Keith said. “Ours is going to take a little time to grow in but it’s only going to get prettier as the years go on.”

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