Cool 4 School: McKinley High School Horticulture Program 5/6/08

Updated: May 6, 2008 12:34 PM EDT

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Cool 4 School: McKinley High School Horticulture Program 5/6/08

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - For students at one Buffalo school, this spring is coming up roses, as well as many other kinds of flowers.

News 4 has more on this unique program.

Horticulture teacher Dan Robillard: "It's hectic here. It's very hectic."

They're busy bees, preparing hundreds of flowers for the end of the year plant sale.

Dan Robillard said, "We're a self-sufficient program, so anything we make keeps us rolling."

That program is the Horticulture program at Buffalo's McKinley High School. It's one of only two like it in the state.

McKinley High School junior Danielle Rodgers said, "It's fun, something different besides regular school, like an escape, therapy kind of."

In addition to their regular course load, the 80 students in the program take 4 years of horticulture classes and an occupational competency test upon graduation.

McKinley High School junior Sara Wheeler said, "We hardly ever have book work. It's all hands on planting and growing.'

...hands on work they truly enjoy. They provide flowers for district events, for neighborhoods, and these students are preparing arm bouquets and corsages for a wedding.

McKinley High School junior Jessica Correa said, "You start with the greens first. Then you put the flowers. Then you add the roses. And now we're just wrapping them with ribbon."

"I'm learning right now how to transplant flowers. Many of these students, like I, do not have a green thumb at all. But they say once they delve in and get their hands dirty, they cultivate a love of horticulture.

"How does that look?"

"It's good."

Jessica Correa said, "I didn't know how to do anything when I first started."

Robillard said, "It's different, but they embrace it. It's like a new challenge."

Some of the students would like to pursue a future in horticulture. Most embrace it as a hobby and new found passion.

Sara Wheeler said, "I'm actually starting my mom's garden now for her, and planting all the plants for her, and doing the landscaping."

McKinley High School junior Laura Pastor said, "A lot of people, when I tell them I do horticulture, a lot of people are really interested. They ask if I can help them, and they ask a lot of questions, and it makes me feel good."

It's easy to see the McKinley program is not only beautifying the school and community, but it's beautifying the souls of teenagers as well.

McKinley's plant sale is Tuesday, May 13th, from 8:30 to 3:00. It's open to the public. All of the proceeds go back to the horticulture program.

Story by Melissa Holmes, WIVB.