During the past three years, fifth-graders at Lewiston Elementary School have taken school pride to a new level.
Some pupils, under the direction of teacher Paul Holcomb, have participated in an after-school beautification project that has included the planning, construction and care of a flower gardens on campus.
"These are all volunteers," said Holcomb, who said he shows the students what to do, but they do all the work. "This has given them ownership in their school. This after-school program starts around the end of August and continues throughout the school year."
One of the school's main gardens is a 20-foot half-circle bed that includes butterfly bushes, honeysuckle, petunias, nasturtium and moonglow. The pupils are responsible for planting new flowers, adding mulch, watering the plants, weeding the bed and any other upkeep.
"We do something -- watering, digging, seeding -- every week," said Holcomb.
Next year, Holcomb hopes to begin seeds in a greenhouse and let the pupils plant them in the spring. He also wants to start an organic vegetable garden to include beans, corn, peppers and tomatoes.
Pupils who participate in the after-school program include Madison Fenton, Brooke Buck, Courtney Waters, Michael Watts, Kayla Evangelista and Natshia Cox.
When talking about the beautification projects, the pupils exude enthusiasm. Holcomb said Michael once continued working even after blisters formed on his hands.
"He said, 'I can't stop,' " said Holcomb. "It's really amazing how these kids feel about the work they've done on campus."
Courtney said she enjoys participating in the school beautification projects because she likes "helping Mr. Holcomb and pretty much helping the environment and making it better."
The pupils are working on a project that includes spelling out LES in bricks near the school's entrance. They already have determined the design and have started laying out the bricks, which were donated by Boral Bricks, one of the school's business partners.
While this group of fifth-graders moves to middle school next year, Holcomb said he's inspired by the legacy they are leaving behind.
"If the kids next year work half as hard as these kids, I'll be impressed," he said. "They are a great group of kids."
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