Spring blooms at P.S. 127

It was the first school day after Daylight Saving Time began and the students of P.S. 127 McKinley Park were all bright eyes and big smiles, ready to plant daffodil bulbs and seeds of everything from sunflowers and zinnias to forget-me-nots and pansies during their second annual “Plant A Flower Day,” held on Monday, March 12.

The two-day event began with a bake sale the Friday beforehand, with goods donated by parents, neighbors, the school’s Gardening Committee and Young Dancers In Repertory’s (YDR) OST after-school program. On Monday morning, each classroom got its own vase of daisies and carnations courtesy of Nestor Andrianos from Enchanted Florist

“They loved it and had a ball. Some told me they hadn’t dug in dirt before,” said Vanessa Aja-Sigmon, whose five-year-old son is in the first grade. “It uses a different side of the brain and is multi-sensory. We learn about each other, community-building and how to appreciate diversity as an asset, not a burden.”

“This is an extension of classroom learning,” added YDR Program Director Biana Kovic, “with art, math, science and geography.” The benefits of the hands-on learning also leads to “kids starting to take more pride in their space, and respect and responsibility for their plants – and each other.

“[Kids are] nice to each other, especially when the fourth and fifth graders are so competitive,” said Parent Coordinator Roseann Vento. “We can all talk about [stopping] bullying… This keeps them focused on something else, where they don’t have to compete with each other, and they work together.”

The seedlings are on the south side of the building along 79th Street, while the main tabletop garden beds are in the back near the playground, although they will eventually move to a more permanent home in the front of the school once scaffolding is removed later this year.

“A lot of kids walk to school, so it will be nice to see the bright flowers [first thing] in the morning,” added Aja-Sigmon.

“Plant A Flower Day” is another step in the school’s larger ongoing garden project begun in September, when the Gardening Committee was formed with assistance from a $1,400 grant from the citywide school gardens program “Grow To Learn.” P.S. 127 just won another grant – to the tune of $3,350 – from Lowe’s Toolbox. It will be used to beautify the school garden with benches, vines and bushes.

Donations of soil, bulbs, seeds and snacks for those participating came from local Fifth Avenue businesses like Enchanted Florist, Bay Ridge Bakery, A & A Greetings, Dale Bagels and New Party Land.

YDR is a Sunset Park-based group that holds an after-school program of arts, dance, drama, poetry, homework help and academic enrichment to at-need youth.

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