ADAMS TOWNSHIP — A $25,000 grant has been awarded to Clinton-Massie schools, which will use the funds to build a greenhouse and create a “Growing Entrepreneurs” program.
“Our plan is to create a Growing Entrepreneurs program so that our high school students in agriculture, technology, and business classes can collaborate to build an authentic, profitable plant-based business,” said Clinton-Massie K-5 Gifted Intervention Specialist Jen Molitor who applied for the competitive grant.
Clinton-Massie agriculture students will experiment and explore the principles of plant anatomy, physiology, and nutrition as those apply to the development, selection and reproduction, planting, fertilization, health, harvesting, and management of plants in a domestic environment, she said.
“We’d like to offer business students the opportunity to learn business plan creation, budgeting, and inventory tracking,” added Molitor.
While involving high school students in aspects of project imaginativeness, implementation, finances, marketing, coding and problem-solving, middle school students will use the greenhouse to grow succulents from plant parts. And elementary students will receive training from the high schoolers on the basics of growing plants as their garden club works to create a school garden, according to Molitor.
High school students from the mechanics and mechanical principles classes and Clinton-Massie’s maintenance department are expected to assist with the installation of the greenhouse later this year.
“We anticipate our ag classes will begin researching greenhouse management in the fall,” she said.
Use of a greenhouse is viewed by district officials as the next step in growing its relatively new agriculture program, as well as FFA, and student interest in STEM-based careers. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
“This is a huge win for our district and our community!” said Molitor.
Clinton-Massie Local Schools Superintendent Matt Baker is also very excited about the grant and greenhouse. He anticipates some of the produce grown there will end up in the Clinton-Massie Food Pantry.
The Clinton and Warren Counties Farm Bureaus each donated $1,000 to be put toward the greenhouse interior. “A special thank you goes out to [four-county Farm Bureau Director] Ashley Rose for setting up meetings with both Bureaus and facilitating their support for this project,” said Baker.
The Grow Rural Education program grant, sponsored by the Bayer Fund, allows eligible farmers to nominate their local public school district for grants to help enhance STEM education. Once nominated, school districts submit applications to compete for $10,000 or $25,000 grants to help fund projects that enhance their STEM curriculum.
At Monday night’s school board session, Baker said the district’s open enrollment numbers as of this point are trending upward. As of last Friday, the district had 156 open enrollment students, and eight more families may confirm as well.
“That [164 total] would be 21 above what we ended last school year with,” the superintendent stated.
Three people spoke during the public participation portion of the meeting. Dann Sternsher, who has pulled petitions to run for school board, urged officials to prepare a strategic plan for the district. Strategic planning, he said, helps with finances and facilities, and could help in planning ahead for what he described as a trend of declining enrollment numbers in the district.
Strategic plans also help drive communications in a district. “We’ve sent a lot of miscommunications out because we don’t have a plan we’re running by,” said Sternsher.
In response to an inquiry from board member Kathleen Norman, Baker said exploring strategic planning has been his main focus for the past two months, and he has a goal to have Phase 1 of a strategic plan out for public consumption by June of 2020.
The superintendent acknowledged strategic planning is not part of his expertise and he’s never been through the process.
Clinton-Massie High School English Language Arts teacher Kara Shroyer advised the board she has concerns and questions about scheduling of courses. She said an administrator recently told her to focus on her job and not on scheduling after she asked for information related to scheduling.
And Darrell Petrey, a local man who has a second-hand resell business and an innovative fundraising process, also addressed the school board. Petrey’s company is called We Help Others, and on the fundraising front it collects, for example, gently used or new household items from local residents and resells them to benefit local schools.
He indicated he is hoping for increased community engagement, which in turn would benefit Clinton-Massie schools.
Within the next six months he plans to transition from a for-profit enterprise to not-for-profit status.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.