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Students Take On Tasks And Learn As They Work
Growing Strong
Seniors Jilleen Sanders and Alyssa Salcedo pour some seeds into their hands as they prepare to plant them, in class earlier this semester at Escalon High School as part of the school farm project. Marg Jackson/The Times

There’s plenty of growth happening along Stanislaus Street, just across the street from the playing fields at Escalon High School.

There, the school farm has taken shape and students in a number of classes are learning ‘on the job’ with tasks such as gardening, animal care, landscaping work and more.

In mid-spring, the students spent some time prepping small planter flats to plant seeds and grow them inside before transplanting them to the larger planter boxes outside. Several animals on site are also being cared for by students, some getting ready for the annual AgFest livestock market show.

“I like just being able to be active outside of the classroom,” explained freshman Constance Belger of what she enjoys about the school farm and her opportunity for hands on learning. “I don’t like learning just sitting down, I would rather participate in it.”

Senior Danielle Gallegos, meanwhile, has been part of FFA, Future Farmers of America, at Escalon all four years of high school.

“I like the inclusivity of it, everyone gets involved,” Gallegos noted.

Also enjoying the out of the traditional classroom setting is freshman Angel Constantine, who said it is easier for him to stay focused when he is taking part in the classes, not just listening.

Ag teacher Gypsy Stark said the school farm has been an ongoing project for about a year and a half, with assistance from the school district in establishing a greenhouse and the local GAR Bennett firm assisting with irrigation. The Ag Mechanics and Horticulture classes were involved as well.

This year’s spring planting featured both flowers and vegetables and Stark said it’s important for the students to go through the entire process, from preparation to production.

Senior Alayna Azevedo, who serves this year as the FFA Chapter President at EHS, said the school farm, FFA and associated classes provide plenty of ‘real world’ value.

“FFA has taught me a lot of post-high school stuff,” Azevedo said. “There are many leadership opportunities.”

Stark, along with Isabella Leventini and Kenny Saephan make up the ag department teaching staff and are all encouraged by the possibilities for utilizing the school farm in multiple classes. That could include floral design classes using flowers from the farm for projects and to sell; potential vegetable sales and more.

“We’re still finishing up,” noted Stark. “We’re definitely excited.”

Members of the FFA, meanwhile, are also looking forward to an in-person student awards banquet, set for Friday, May 21 at 6 p.m. in the school’s ag department.

Part of the classes at the school farm for Escalon High School see students get right down to the nitty gritty; adding dirt to the small starter planter flats before adding seeds, with students freshman Matt Freeseha and sophomore Randy Laudenklos focused on the task at hand. Marg Jackson/The Times