Community groups seek to grow gardens at schools
College, school system to honor Gateway students
A group of county residents are invoking the first lady's name in trying to convince schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast to reverse his stance on planting fruit and vegetable gardens on school grounds.
In response, a school system official said administrators are working with the county parks and recreation department to allow students to grow gardens in parks near the schools.
On Feb. 26, Weast wrote a memo to the county school board saying that vegetable gardens are a food source for pests and create a liability for children with food allergies.
The residents recently wrote a letter to Weast to explain the benefits of the gardens and emphasized that first lady Michelle Obama is fighting for the cause for school food gardens.
To ban gardens from school grounds would make the school system look bad, the residents wrote.
"It's a discredit to our fine school system, and robs our children of an important opportunity to learn how to lead active and healthy lives," Gordon Clark, project director for Montgomery Victory Gardens, and Sheryl Freishtat, president of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association, wrote in the letter.
"Across the country, schools are adopting vegetable gardens because of the multiple benefits they provide to children, their families and their communities."
In the letter, Clark and Freishtat acknowledged that maintaining a vegetable garden would require work and commitment from administrators, teachers and parents, but "fear of maintenance problems is not a reason to ban vegetable gardens."
"Vegetable gardens do represent some maintenance challenges, but many schools around the state and country are successfully meeting these challenges," Clark and Freishtat wrote. "We are confident that the teachers, administrators and parents of Montgomery County could do the same."
Clark and Freishtat concluded their letter by stating that they don't want the school system to spend money or use staff time to maintain the gardens. They want school administrators to review and approve proposals from schools that want to grow their own gardens.
Gateway' students to be recognized at ceremony
Montgomery College and the Montgomery County school system will hold a special graduation ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday to honor the achievements of more than 30 students who recently earned their high school diplomas through the Gateway to College Program this academic year.
The college's Gateway to College Program serves at-risk youths ages 16 to 20 who dropped out of high school. The program gives students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, while transitioning to a college campus and simultaneously accumulating high school and college credits.
This year, four Gateway students Lawrence Caldwell, Alexandra Goldstein, Samantha Slater Wright and Cassandra Amos will receive their high school diplomas after already earning associate's degrees at the college's May 21 commencement ceremony.
Caldwell is a recipient of a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, a member of Phi Theta Kappa and an honors graduate. Through the scholarship, he will receive $30,000 annually to complete his baccalaureate degree. Goldstein and Slater Wright are also members of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
The Montgomery College Gateway to College Program began in fall 2004 with roughly 60 students 20 at each of the college's three campuses in Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park/Silver Spring. The program now has more than 200 students.
The ceremony will be held in the performing arts center at the college's Silver Spring campus. The center is located at 7995 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring.
Montgomery College will host events at all three of its campuses this month to help students with the enrollment process.
Representatives will be on hand to assist with admissions, financial aid, counseling and advising. All events are free, and parents are encouraged to attend. Students who submit their admissions application on the day of the event will have the application fee waived.
The first event occurs from 9 a.m. to noon June 12 in the Charlene R. Nunley Student Services Center on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus. Contact Jonathan.Howie@montgomerycollege.edu or call 240-567-5802.
The second event takes place from 3 to 5:30 p.m. June 17 in the High Technology and Science Center on the Germantown campus.
Contact Cathy.Kwolek@montgomerycollege.edu or call 240-567-7816.
The third event will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 19 in the Rockville Campus Center. Individual academic advising will not be available during this session.
Contact Maria.Adams@montgomerycollege.edu or call 240-567-5039.