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Woodcrest Elementary School
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
"Woodcrest Elementary School is an elementary school in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the 12th largest school district in the state. Woodcrest has been the recipient of the New Jersey School of Character Awards (Winner and Honorable Mentions). Woodcrest has also received Promising Practice Awards from the National Schools of Character Awards. There is socioeconomic diversity within our Cherry Hill Public School (CHPS) with approximately 18% of our CHPS students eligible for free or reduced lunch. There is also cultural diversity within our CHPS with over 60 native languages spoken by CHPS students. Woodcrest Elementary itself has 385 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade (ages 5-11). The ethnic distribution of our students is as follows: American Indian 0.3%; Asian 17.7%; Black or African American 8.6%; Hispanic or Latino 4.7%; Native Hawaiian 0.3%; White 68.6%. Cherry Hill is in the Delaware Valley coastal plain about eight miles southeast of Philadelphia. Woodcrest neighborhood, where our school is located, was originally a farming community and is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cherry Hill. Our project is in line with our roots as we will develop an appreciation for our environment and horticulture in general."
"Our school has a 30 feet by 30 feet garden area surrounded by a wooden picket fence, which is in decent condition. There are several large shady trees outside the fenced in garden area. Funds would be used to purchase gardening tools and supplies, effectively designed raised gardening beds, plants and horticulture, and picnic tables. Our goal is to provide engaging, interactive, hands-on learning opportunities while incorporating lessons in the areas of science, nature, geography, and nutrition. The lessons learned in and around the Peaceful Garden and Learning Center will (1) provide an understanding of environmental issues including sustainability, ecosystems, and biomes, (2) provide practical hands on experience with gardening and horticulture, and (3) promote healthy nutrition by growing and sampling various fruits and vegetables. Teachers and students will engage in outdoor lessons at the picnic tables under the shade of already existing trees around the garden. School Garden Curricula Lesson Plans from the National Environmental Education Foundation (http://eeweek.org/resources/garden_curricula.htm) will be adjusted and personalized based on grade, students, district requirement, and principal approval. The lesson plans will adhere to both State Common Core Standards and National Science Standards. For instance, before planting in the garden beds, students will learn about seeds, germination, and what factors are needed to promote plant growth. While maintaining and observing the garden, students will learn about life cycles of organisms, plant families, insects, characteristics of ecosystems, and interdependence of organisms. We will have an Open House at the end of the year for families and neighbors to come and view our students’ handiwork. Each grade may also present a summary of what they learned. Our school has a Green Team consisting of several teachers, parents, and a group of enthusiastic-about-the-environment fourth and fifth graders. Students on the Green Team will be leaders in the school on these projects with responsibilities ranging from inspiring others to recycle to making posters on Ways to Help the Environment. Our desired outcome is for teachers, students, and families, to be inspired to do their part in promoting a sustainable environment."