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Operation Round-Up Cleora school garden project receives a boost


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leora School’s moƩ o proudly proclaims “Where Learning is Number #1!”


It’s true the school has a reputaƟ on for going above and beyond when it comes to providing students with unique educaƟ onal opportuniƟ es. We now know many of these opportuniƟ es extend beyond the walls of the classroom.


Cleora School is tucked away in the northwest corner of Delaware County – just a hop, skip and jump from the shores of Grand Lake. It is a member of Oklahoma’s OrganizaƟ on of Rural Elementary Schools (ORES) and instructs some 120 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade. The school maintains loŌ y standards for both its academic and athleƟ c programs. Once they leave Cleora, students scaƩ er to various surrounding high schools, including AŌ on, Ketchum, Vinita and Grove.


In its quest to enrich the educaƟ onal experience for students, Cleora constructed an outdoor classroom in 2008. There is also a nature trail, rain garden and observaƟ on pond on the sprawling campus.


A garden is the latest undertaking, and it is an achievement of some signi⇒ cance. Many have contributed to the garden project, but longƟ me teacher Steve Knox is credited for making it a reality. Superintendent Kenny Guthrie’s seal of approval put the plan into moƟ on.


Teacher Steve Knox made the school garden a reality.


“Mr. Guthrie and I talked about it and he had experience with a garden at a previous school,” Knox explained. “I menƟ oned to him that we could do something like that here and he said go for it. I drew this up and thought about how we wanted it. We wanted it to be kid-friendly with de⇒ ned areas for kids to


8 - NE Connection


“There is so much for students to learn in the garden,” said Knox. “They will discover the purpose of all of the blooms on these plants and why so many diī erent insects are coming and going. There are a lot of things going on. They may see a ladybug and may not realize just how valuable it is in a garden.”


Knox said Ɵ me spent in a garden is something many of the students may not have otherwise experienced.


“And that’s a quesƟ on we asked,” he said. “How many of you have a garden at home? Maybe twenty percent raised their


walk in and out easily. We created pecan shell pathways and brought in benches for seaƟ ng.”


Ground was broken on the 90-foot by 50- foot plot in December 2015. The soil was amended with manure to help opƟ mize growing condiƟ ons.


As the 2015-2016 school year wound down, students began venturing outside on a regular basis to experience diī erent phases of gardening, from planning to planƟ ng to nurturing. Adult volunteers were brought in to provide addiƟ onal insight.


Clint Branham CommunicaƟ ons Specialist


hands. So it aī ected a lot of them. It is going to help them beƩ er understand and appreciate the process of how produce reaches the grocery store. And, for those who show an interest, learning to garden will provide them an important life-skill.”


The Cleora School garden is home to hundreds of diī erent plants and almost every imaginable vegetable. You’ll also ⇒ nd herbs and ⇓ owers located strategically.


“The kids go around and taste the diī erent herbs we have growing,” Knox said. “Of course, they love that.”


Added Knox: “We are going to experiment and try diī erent things. We want to have a fall garden where the kids can come out and pick vegetables, take them in, clean them and let the school cooks prepare and serve them.”


Spring rains have supplied ample water for the garden thus far, but the school knows weather condiƟ ons may not always be so favorable. Coming soon is a more convenient water supply, which will eliminate the need for transporƟ ng cumbersome garden hoses long distances to the garden area once supplemental


watering is required. The next item on Knox’s wish list is a garden shed.


Knox and son Bryson, along with some volunteer help from school families, will maintain the garden.


DonaƟ ons from vendors and individuals account for nearly all of the seeds and plants grown in the garden. Northeast Oklahoma Electric CooperaƟ ve was proud to assist the Cleora school garden project through its OperaƟ on Round-Up program. OperaƟ on Round-Up awarded a $1,250 grant to help the school purchase fencing,


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