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Union students will soon develop green thumbs

March 28, 2013
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Students at Poland Union Elementary School will soon have a new teaching tool that will grow through the school year. The school will be receiving its first greenhouse.

Union Principal Mike Masucci said the work on this project began last year. Through the help of PTO and some grant funds, a fence was purchased to enclose an area at the northeast corner of the school that will become a garden and greenhouse. With the fence in place, several small garden plots have been set up and the area for the new greenhouse was cleared. The greenhouse should arrive in a week or two.

The greenhouse will be 9-feet, 8 inches by 17 feet, 2 inches. It is made by the International Greenhouse Company and features an irrigation system, shade cloth for protection from the sun, custom fit benches and a heater. Masucci also said it has upper and lower shelving where the younger kids and older kids can keep their projects separate.

Article Photos

Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Poland Union second-grader Francesca Rubesa and first-grader George Maillis check out the young plants that are growing in a portable indoor greenhouse. The plants will be given to parents at Easter, but the students will be seeing a lot more plants with a much bigger greenhouse coming to the school in April.

"Our goal is to have it up right after Easter break," Masucci said.

With a new greenhouse and a good deal of open garden space, the students will need plenty of plants. That shouldn't be a big problem as Masucci has a steady partner in Hartville, Ohio.

"When we got the greenhouse running at North Elementary, we went to Zellers and Sons Inc. in Hartville for plants," Masucci said. "The owner (Cecil Zellers) set me up and said as long as the kids are getting their hands dirty, come and see me."

For the past 12 years, Zellers has contributed soil and starter plants and has become what Masucci said is a "valuable partner."

The new greenhouse will expand Union's current recycling programs and conservation efforts as well. It will be a great teaching tool and will instill in the students a sense of pride and a lot of knowledge about the natural world around them.

"By using the greenhouse, our students will continue to develop skills in many areas including following directions, collecting and analyzing data, making predictions, estimating, and even marketing," he said. "The possibilities are endless."

Within the garden section on the ground, Masucci has come up with a fun idea. He said the kindergarten classes will put together a time capsule of people and events in their first year at Union. The capsule will be buried and left in the ground until the last day of school when those kindergarteners finish the fourth grade. At that time, their capsules will be opened so students can look back five years. The plan is to continue the program with every kindergarten class.

Partnering with businesses and individuals helps get things done at Poland Union. Masucci is also working on another indoor project. The amplification system at Poland Union is in need of replacement, but that costs money. Masucci has partnered with Outback Steakhouse in Boardman, which committed to helping raise funds for the system. He said the PTO has helped get the replacement started by contributing money from last year's Pittsburgh Steelers basketball game, but there are still more pieces of the system needing replaced.

Outback said they will go on the road with their menu and will set up at Poland McKinley. Masucci said Union didn't have the space they required so the event is taking place from 5:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. April 12 in the McKinley/PMS connector. Tickets are available at Union for the event and those wishing to attend should obtain them immediately by calling the school.

The event will also feature a basket raffle and 50/50 drawing that should help bring in the funds to replace the entire amplification system at the school.

As for Outback, they were glad to partner with Poland Union to help out.

"The Outback staff told me they were going to make this the biggest and best they have ever done," Masucci said.



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