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Westside receives $2,000 grant as Bicentennial School

Westside Elementary School was named an Alabama Bicentennial School and awarded a $2,000 grant which will allow students to put their green thumb to work with the addition of eight planter boxes to grow the school’s Growing Minds community vegetable garden this August.

Principal Roshanda Jackson said the expansion of the community garden is part of the school “striving to teach students the importance of community partnership.”

“We wanted our students to see that it is good to always give back, so we wanted to donate [the vegetables] to the Demopolis Food Pantry,” Jackson said.

The students will work with community members to start the garden, but planting seeds maintaining it is up to the students. Jackson said that students will learn science, math and communication skills with the garden.

Jackson plans to involve the City of Demopolis by bringing in community beautification leaders and organizations to help the students with the garden.

“We’re always looking for ways to involve the community as a whole because one thing we do know is it’s a partnership. We don’t want to do it in isolation,” Jackson said.

The grant will be used for Miracle-Gro, water hoses, gardening tools, seeds and planter boxes. Once the grant money runs out, the school and community will sustain the garden themselves.

Jackson said that the garden could open up another career path for some students at WES.

“Maybe if they start at this early age liking gardening, this could be a livelihood for some of them.”

Jackson also said that it was an honor for WES to be recognized by Governor Kay Ivey.

“The only thing that we were doing was writing a grant to do some things for our students, but to be recognized as a Bicentennial School, it’s an honor for us.”

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, June 16 issue of the Demopolis Times.)