• CPI students stop by Benner Elementary to help spruce up the school’s garden


    The garden at Benner Elementary School has a little bit of a new look, thanks to students from the horticulture and carpentry programs at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology.

    On April 10, the group stopped by the school at 8:45 a.m. and immediately got to work within just a few minutes of their arrival. The mission was to extend the garden by adding two more vegetable beds, making a compost pile and taking care of a few other landscaping needs. Penn State master gardener Pam Ford also stopped by to help educate students about the purpose of the pollinator garden.

    The group included about 20 students from the high school and adult programs at CPI, including a majority from Bellefonte Area School District. Horticulture and landscaping instructor Joe Luther said the project was mutually beneficial for Benner Elementary and his high school and adult students.

    Students in each class from kindergarten through fifth-grade also had the chance to visit the CPI students as they were making enhancements to the garden. Second-grade teacher Lata Anantheswaran, who helps oversee the school garden, said the entire student body also participated in pruning the pollinator garden plants, while also watching the older students at work using large equipment.

    Bellefonte freshman Rheya Lott was one of the students who helped show some third-graders in Mike Mussett’s class the proper way to trim plants in the pollinator garden and vegetable beds so they can successfully grow in the spring and summer when the weather turns nice again. She said she joined the horticulture program at CPI to learn a little more about plant species, while putting her creativity to work.

    The Benner garden is also being featured in a video by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and will be shared as soon as it’s completed. It will include clips of Anantheswaran and her students.

    *By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD. Photographed are Bellefonte Area sophomores.