Special Needs Classes Start the First Garden at HHS

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by Melissa Juhasz

Several students tend to the new garden at HHS every week.

Nora Ferro, Staff Writer

HHS special needs classes have recently started their newest project, that being HHS’s very own garden in the outdoor courtyard. The closed off land, which is rarely used, is blocked off from wind and gets perfect sunlight. It is also right in the middle of one of the school’s main wings of classrooms for various individuals to see throughout the day. Several groups of students and faculty were involved in this project. The Life Skills classes that include students with mild and moderate autism were a big help, along with 2 post graduate classes who focus on functional reading/math, and work readiness. Some of the faculty involved are Larry Spencer and Melissa Juhasz.

The project started when a friend of Juhas’sz donated 100 plants from their own business called Bonnie plants. Unsure of what to do with all these seedlings at first, Juhasz thought that a school garden would be a great idea for the students to work on because they could learn numerous more skills. Juhasz has been teaching at Hillsborough High school for 21 years and is ecstatic to be working with special needs students once again after a period of teaching science courses. She explains that working with young adults who have special needs is her true passion and seeing their successes makes her happy each day.

In order to make this garden happen, the faculty involved compiled a list of needed materials to which the community responded quite quickly. Lowe’s donated tomato cages, wooden stakes, a wheel barrow, rakes, while Central Jersey nurseries¬† added rebar for boards, shovels, gardening gloves for digging, watering cans, and more. To add, the Bell Mead Co Op donated soil, leaf compost, sand, and screen top soil for planting. The Hamill family also donated 2 reused storage containers for holding any needed supplies outside, and extra garden gloves. The necessary lumber for constructing garden beds was mostly donated or found by participants like the Juhasz, Blauvelt, and Silverman families.

After planting began, a craft sale was held by the Boro Blooms, the group of students and staff who are participating in the project. There they sold buttons, painted stones, bookmarks, birdhouses, along with a real plant sale for selling the herbs grown on property.

Another positive factor is that this project does not end with the school year. Since the garden will need care and attention during the hot summer months, the ESY (extended school-year) program will have many tasks to complete weekly, giving more kids ample opportunities to learn about the garden and how to use their new skills.

For only being two months old, the new Boro Blooms Garden is already making a great impact on the school environment, and adding to the long list of great ideas to keep these students involved.