RIPLEY - Ripley Central School concluded another successful summer program on Thursday, Aug. 16 with its annual summer picnic.
Parents of the over 40 students who participated in the program came to the picnic to enjoy the homemade treats made with vegetables the students grew with their own hands. This year's program was better than ever thanks in part to the Kid's Gardening Program and Home Depot. Ripley Principal Lauren Ormsby won a $500 Home Depot grant last spring which enabled the school to expand its summer garden. The gift card was used to purchase wood for four additional raised beds, blueberry and raspberry bushes, flowers for the butterfly garden and vegetable plants. Additionally, the school was able to purchase new gardening tools.
RCS students in grades kindergarten through fourth, led by Erika Meredith, Seneca Wilkinson, Jeanne Hartman, Kathleen Machemer and Michelle Lukasiak, helped water and weed the garden every day. Because of their expert care and hard work this summer, the cafeteria will have a wide variety of fresh vegetables to choose from for use in preparation of school lunches. Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, pumpkins, cabbage, peppers and peas were all grown this year. Pumpkins and gourds were also planted in a new large raised bed. Wendy Graham's pre-kindergarten class will use the pumpkins to carve this fall and Meredith's class is planning to use the gourds grown to make birdhouses with her sixth grade class.
Christopher Lukasiak water the school’s garden during Ripley Central School’s summer program.
The school's summer program wasn't all just work in the garden. The group worked daily on reading, math, handwriting and other academic skills. The second grade students even got a head start on their cursive writing. Students also enjoyed several field trips. One of the students' favorite trips involved a visit to a local farm. Darwin and Nancy Rowe of Ripley invited the group come to their farm to see animals and go for a nature walk. Students got to inspect a dried-up creek bed and search for salamanders, frogs and crayfish under rocks. Another crowd favorite was a visit to Burch Farms in North East, Pa. The owners gave the group a great tour of their fruit farm and discussed all of the homegrown products they sell. Westfield Beach was the last field trip. Students loved playing in the sand and getting their feet wet in the water. After going to the beach, the group enjoyed a great lunch of hotdogs, fries and ice cream at Farmer's Daughter, thanks to the generosity of owner of Farmer's Daughter and Lakeside Campground in Ripley, John Trevelline.
Ripley Central School would like to thank the many people who made this summer program a success. First of all, a special thanks goes to RCS Board of Education President Bob Bentley, or RJB Construction, who not only donated all of the dirt for the raised beds, but shoveled most of it off of the truck. The RCS Technology class, led by Technology Teacher Shawn Canon, deserves a special thanks for building the raised beds once again this year. Leadership students Kyle Hammond, Sammi Trevelline, Sierra Tessmer and Jason Davis get a special thanks for moving all of the dirt by wheelbarrow to the raised beds. The RCS custodial and secretarial staff earned gratitude for watering the garden before summer school started. Thanks also go to Meredith, Ormsby, Angela Patti, Laurie Kozlowski, Gregg Beardsley, Alex Reyda and Michelle Flick for planting the garden on those 90 degree days this June.
The success of this program was truly a group effort. The smiles on the students' faces as they served their parents at the picnic were worth all of the hard work. Next year, RCS plans on extending its summer garden and possibly adding some fruit trees to the mix.