A ground-breaking ceremony was held Friday morning at Van Cortlandtville Elementary School in Cortlandt Manor to mark the start of construction on the school’s Edible Educational Garden and Outdoor Learning Center.
Van Cortlandtville Principal Jacqueline Woodruff said that the purpose of the Edible Educational Garden and Outdoor Learning Center will be to encourage outdoor learning, healthy eating, and educate the children about the environment. The principal said the project represents “science at its best.”
At 9 a.m. sharp, Central Office Administrators, members of the Board of Education, members of the PTA, sponsors, students, parents and other guests gathered outside in the school’s courtyard where the future garden and learning center will be located. Many wore the plastic yellow hard-hats that students Gillian Capichioni and Danielle Merante handed out with the event’s program as each attendant entered the courtyard.
A handful of students from each grade were selected to represent their peers outside at the ceremony. Dressed in green shirts and yellow hard hats, this group included a number of essay winners and other “garden participants.” A few students in the front row held large, handmade pictures of fruits and vegetables. The rest of the school’s children gathered in the gym to share in the day’s excitement via a live video broadcast.
The ceremony began as Principal Woodruff welcomed everyone to the event, expressed her excitement about the future of the projects, and extended thanks to everyone involved.
Woodruff was followed by Kathy Mills-Hasting, a teacher leader for the Edible Education Garden, who took to the podium to tell how the dream of the Edible Garden and Outdoor Learning Center came to be a reality.
The children, led by music teacher Cynthia Ramirez, also sang a song of gratitude titled, “Healthy Thank Yous,” especially composed for the ceremony.
Plaques were then presented to the projects sponsors. Jack DiPietro, the owner of DiPietro Construction Corporation, who donated materials at low cost and is building the garden at no cost. Dan Grace and Paul Fariselli, the manager and assistant manager of the Mohegan Lake Home Depot, who donated the materials and manpower to build the Outdoor Learning Center, happily accepted the kind gesture, and proceeded to break the ground.
Anthony Cinquanta, the owner of Anthony's Power Equipment, was also recognized and thanked for donating the garden’s irrigation system.
The children, who have already begun to sow various seeds in their classrooms, can expect to see their first harvest by next fall.