A year of intense planning has paid off for Franklin High School students. About 60 students worked through chilly winds and rains over two days of winter break this past December to install three academic gardens and a rainwater recovery system on our campus. At the end, they celebrated their accomplishments with hot dogs and burgers barbecued by the vice principal in charge of school facilities.
Franklin High is a 2,800-student comprehensive high school located in Elk Grove, California, just south of Sacramento. The school is built on former sheep and cattle grazing land, but is now surrounded by residential neighborhoods and small businesses.
About 200 students and several teachers worked throughout the 2014-15 school year to research and write a 109-page master plan to install four gardens on campus: an art garden, a native California botanical garden, a geological rock garden, and an English garden. All but the art garden were installed. The water recovery system was built inside the school’s greenhouse area to alleviate the effects of the historic California drought.
The gardens were funded with grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, the River Valley Garden Club, the California Fertilizer Foundation, and Project Learning Tree. Students also conduct annual fundraising through two food fairs each year and the spring farmers’ market.
Four of our NGSS students worked double duty this school year with the Forestry Club. They won first place last November in the California Forestry Challenge in Santa Cruz. Participants, led by adviser Renee Link, spent an entire day in the forest, and then worked into the evening on their presentations. The next day they did field training and took a test on timber management, the role of fire, ecology, identification and how to use forestry tools.
Students are continuing their work on campus, maintaining the science and English gardens, and growing plants for their upcoming May sale while keeping an eye on graduation.