Growth: Year Round Program

By Alex Lowe, Middle School Porgram Coordinator

Two months ago, our YRP community began the process of preparing and planting a Student U Community Garden. Energized and motivated by the hope of growth, our students gathered the “essentials” – soil, a sunny space, watering cans, and, of course, seeds – and got to work. After much hard work and a lot of patience over the past few weeks, our garden is growing! Although we cannot promise a full farmer’s marker anytime soon, we can promise a few snap peas and possibly some cabbages in the near future.

As the Year Round Program comes to an end and we continue to foster the growth of our vegetables, I am struck by the similarities between these two processes. Perhaps the connection between our very first community garden and our very first daily after-school program runs much deeper than simply sharing a location at W.G. Pearson Middle School.

Eight months ago, we similarly began the process of preparing and “planting” Student U’s daily year-round program. Energized by the hope of growth and a belief that our students deserve to become their best selves, we got to work. From the beginning, our “essentials,” too, were present:

We had the soil of our beloved community: the people and partners in and around Durham that share our mission and have worked to build a community where that mission can take root.

We had the sunlight of our families: our students’ source of energy and strength; those who shine down unfaltering belief and hope onto them each and every day.

We had the water of our staff: the people who work tirelessly all year to ensure that each and every student is challenged, is growing, and knows just how capable he or she is.

And, of course, we have perhaps the most brilliant of all seeds: our students, each unique, each containing immeasurable potential, each ready to explode brilliance into this world.

With the foundation of these strong resources, along with much hard work and a lot of patience, our “garden,” too, is growing. In the halls of W.G. Pearson, roots of curiosity and motivation have taken hold. New friendships have sprouted. Academic understanding has blossomed. Passions, talents and laughter have bloomed. We can and should be proud of this garden we call YRP and the way that it has grown this year.

Of course, any gardener will tell you that his or her work is never complete. Weeds will grow, rain will cease for periods of time, and critters will come. There must be constant reflection, quick adaptation, and consistent care for a garden to thrive. We know that the same holds true for our Year Round Program. There is still work to be done, and we are excited to begin shaping what we need to do next year to make our garden even healthier and even more fruitful.

For now, though, we should reflect on this year and celebrate the 400 hours from September-May in which our soil, our sunlight, our water, and our seeds have worked together to spring new life into Student U at W.G. Pearson Middle School. It is because of this beloved community that our seeds have taken root, and it is because of this beloved community that they will continue to grow and thrive.

Thanks for a year full of support, patience, and hard work, everyone. It is a continual joy to watch this garden bloom.


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