October 21, 2013 -- Students at Big Cross and Jackson Heights elementary schools are enjoying new outdoor learning spaces, thanks to the generosity of Lowe’s employees from the Glens Falls community.
A team of “Lowe’s Heroes”—employees from many departments within the Lowe’s building supply company—shared their expertise and a little elbow grease to construct an outdoor classroom space at Jackson Heights, and several garden planter beds in the courtyard at Big Cross.
Tara Brown, from Lowe’s administration, said that each store gets a $1,200 budget for community projects, and local groups submit requests for consideration.
“This year our third grade students wrote persuasive letters describing why they would like to turn our courtyard into a vegetable and fruit garden,” began the request from Big Cross. The students researched and developed a plan, including the best time to plant the seeds and the materials that would be needed—but limited funds and time brought the idea to a halt.
On August 26, the idea became a reality with several wooden garden beds expertly created within the Big Cross courtyard, complete with several loads of soil, vegetable and fruit plants, and additional seeds.
“Not only will this allow for fresh, healthy foods at lunch, but it will give our students an opportunity to learn about growing their own food and the importance of sustainability,” said Principal Debbie Hall.
At Jackson Heights, teachers imagined an outdoor learning
site with a platform stage, amphitheater-style seating,
smaller tables and a walking/exploration trail around the back
edge of the school yard. “These additions would allow
all classes to have an opportunity to explore, exercise and learn outside,” read the request. “Tables strategically placed around the presentation ‘stage’ would allow for science project work, plant and environmental explorations, as well as outdoor presentations.” The finished learning space includes wheelchair-accessible seating for a full class of students.
All the materials and labor were donated by Lowe’s and the individual team members, with many taking time off from work to complete the projects. “We’re glad to do it,” said Daniel Herlihy, who took vacation days from the flooring department to work on both projects. Herlihy attended Jackson Heights as a child.
“Lowe’s Heroes is all about giving back to the communities in which we live, work and play,” said Kim Riper, from Lowe’s human resources department. Joining Riper, Brown and Herlihy in the construction were Aimee Welsh, Mark Bombard, Steve Paulo, Frank Crescente, John Snow, Matt Aldous, Cortez Pritchett, and Jon Duffany.