Students at Rock Hill middle school use repurposed COVID desk shields to build greenhouse

As Earth Day is being celebrated around the world, students at a Rock Hill middle school got outdoors to honor Mother Earth. “We are growing flowers and tomatoes, and I think we’re going to start on cucumbers soon,” said eighth-grader Madison Varnadore, who helps lead the greenhouse program.

But it’s way more than what it seems, as Social Studies teacher John Price explained. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a series of germ shields placed in classrooms. A couple of other guys down the hallway and I would sit around and look at all this plexiglass they were pulling out and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something with it,’” Price said.

They ended up getting a grant from SCDHEC to help build the greenhouse out of the repurposed desk shields. “It feels really good. It’s refreshing to know that you’re doing something for somebody, or the planet,” Varnadore said.

Thanks to the greenhouse program, all of the students are also learning really important skills. “We’re putting a lot of stress and pressure on the environment as the population increases and food prices go up. They have to use more and more chemical fertilizers and pesticides, so I think the ability to sustain yourself and your family is a life skill everybody should have,” Price said.

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