Students and staff at Atherton Elementary are excited about the newest addition to their campus – a rooftop garden. And they have big plans for it.
“We can learn how plants grow and change over time,” said fifth-grader Nathaniel Alvarenga.
“It’s helping our ecosystems,” added his classmate Isacc Solis. “Birds and bees come, and the bees pollinate the plants.”
Atherton received a new building as part of the 2007 bond program, but plans for the rooftop garden were put on hold as other items took priority. Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones supported the garden, which is receiving its finishing touches this month. The project also got a boost from IDG Architects’ Ben McMillan, who donated funds last October.
“Most kids are not exposed to gardening – I know I wasn’t at their age,” said science teacher Matias Perez. “It’s a great opportunity for them. They’ll learn to till soil, plant seeds, and maintain a garden.”
Perez said that all the school’s science classes will use the garden to learn about life cycles and all of the life sciences. They are also planning to install a student-led composting system. Located on the second floor of the building, the garden can be seen and accessed from the hallway.
“Some kids don’t eat their vegetables, so instead of throwing them away, we’ll compost it,” Isacc explained. “So we’re reducing waste and learning about composting.”
The students will grow watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbages, and peppers, which they will be able to take home to share with their families.
“I’m excited about it,” said Principal Albert Lemons. “It will greatly benefit our students to learn about science not just from a book or video, but from a real-life experience.”