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John F. Kennedy Magnet School (JFK) is a national Blue Ribbon School located in Port Chester, New York. Through the donations and support of many local and national corporations and organizations, we were able to raise approximately $60,000 in funding and in-kind donations for our new greenhouse project. Our greenhouse is located in our grades 2 through 5 school and complements a 120-foot by 40-foot garden atrium that features four raised beds for planting, as well as beautiful landscaping along the perimeter.
John F. Kennedy Magnet School Students in Front of Their Greenhouse
Thanks to the major funding of IBM and the Verizon Foundation, we have created an after-school program for third graders that will serve as the basis for a grades 3 through 5 model by the 2014 – 2015 school year. The IBM funding was made possible by the many hours of volunteer service IBM employees contributed to the ongoing MentorPlace program in a 5th grade class at JFK, and to the large Celebration of Service project during IBM’s 2011 Centennial when more than 100 IBMers got involved in our Invention Convention.
Our garden complex is a source of learning and wonder for our students, faculty and community – which always was our intent. We have created a reflective space where teachers can discuss and help to demonstrate life science principles. Our focus always will be teaching the importance of how things grow, the value of nutrition and good eating habits, and information about where good foods come from.
In addition to serving as an esthetically beautiful gathering place for our entire school community, our greenhouse inspires our efforts to encourage a more nutritionally literate student body that will pass along their knowledge to their families, their children and the greater community.
Lou Cuglietto is principal of the John F. Kennedy Magnet School in Port Chester, New York.