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Gardening in Grade 9 Leadership - Maria M.

September 25

Although the class is enjoyable, leadership can sometimes develop a reputation for being useless. Often students cannot see its purpose when compared to math class and ELA, so we simply gloss over its benefits. It is projects like these that turn that expectation on its head. These projects not only teach the curriculum, but they make you care about what you're learning (a feat that not every class can manage). As high school students it is in our blood to be flippant, and it is never easy to find a way around this enormous pitfall. Teachers try to get us involved, but no interactive worksheet compares to the feeling provided by this particular assignment. We weren't just handed a bag of dirt and told, "Plant", we were invested every step of the way. Where do they go? What plants will we use? Taking care of the plants was a huge responsibility, but the fact that you had done all of the work to get you there pushed you to want to keep the little poorly-potted shoots alive. Yes, it was a lot of work, but how could you let the fruits of your labour die after all the prep? To set us up for this task, Ms. Glenney appealed to the aggressive competitive instinct hidden in us all, giving us each an opportunity to have our voice heard in smaller groups and to prove our points over the other groups. Even those who disliked speaking in class got a chance to speak up to those they trusted. In addition to this, this project brought teamwork and a semblance of unity to a class severely lacking in those departments. Everyone worked towards the same end, and we were together in our little planting groups for the whole process. It was never independent work, it was always collaboration. Picking plants, presenting your findings, and even the watering schedule needed to be worked out as a unit, not a singular. Not many projects can manage this, because not many projects have the many facets of this one. There was something in it for everyone, so no one got to sit back and feel useless. There was aesthetics for the artsy kids, speeches for the writers, planting for the practical ones, researching for the science kids, and separating seeds for the math kids. Everyone had one area to excel, and made it much harder to have a one-man group assignment. Finally, there is the impeccable timing of the gardening project. We had reached a point in the year where every class had regressed into a frantic cram fest, and by 3rd and 4th block, we were all fairly done with the day. This task coincided with our sharpen the saw habit, one of the 7 habits that teaches kids to take some time to recharge, and gave us a relaxing outlet during such a stressful time. I feel quite lucky to have been given this opportunity. The gardening was a challenge, and although the plants may not survive, there is not a single person in my class who did not get something out of the endeavour.