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Cibola springs into season with plant sale
Cibola High School's Career Exploration class has taken "going green" to a higher level as students not only raise their own garden but are helping fund school activities.
Their Plant Sale/Ag Day scheduled for Saturday is intended to raise $1,000 to support the school's Teacher Appreciation Week lunch held in May, says Tammy James, Career Exploration teacher.
The class is also an activities club. It is designed to help special needs students with cognitive and social disabilities unable to take general education courses to acquire training that makes them employable in the job market, but this year they have general education students as well, James said.
"It's a fantastic project. It's one the kids are capable of handling. The key is for them is to get a job and for that they need experience. So when an employer can see what these kids can do, they're going to get hired."
The plant sale, open to the public, is Saturday at the Cibola parking lot, 4100 W. 20th St., from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Students raised beefsteak tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, and cayenne peppers. They raised 1,500 plants in all. They had help from Greenheart Nursery, whose hothouse helped promote faster growth during the winter. And Sakata Seed provided seeds, James noted.
"We've partnered with them the last five years. They gave us their knowledge and professionalism and they're the group that really made this project happen"
Also helping was the Robert J. Moody Garden Club whose members allowed students to use their gardens to practice. But during this week's presale vending drive intended to motivate students, they sold 400 plants in two days when last year it took a week to sell that many.
The presale week also serves as a contest. There are 25 students among two classes, and Carolina Vazquez is near the top of the field with 65 sales.
Carolina said she owes her red hot greenery sales to an extended family tree who were glad to contribute to a worthy cause. First place sales earns a $15 gift card, while second place gets a $10 gift card from Harkins Theatres.
Also cooperating on the project is Cibola's FFA Club. Members set aside some of their outdoor space for Career Exploration and also coached students on gardening best practices.
Saturday's plant sale includes barbecued hot dogs, chips and soda. The event is free and open to the public. Along with plants there will be student-produced agricultural theme games and sales of agricultural products.
Gilberto Lemus, 18, a Career Exploration senior, says of all the projects the class is involved with, the plants are his favorite. Gilberto said he sold mostly tomatoes, bell and jalapeño peppers to his family.
"My brothers put them in the garden in our backyard and water them every day. Then my mom plans to use them to mix in her salsa."
James noted that any plants they cannot sell will be taken by the Moody Garden Club and distributed at the county fair.
"The project allows the students a chance to develop a sense of teamwork and you got to have it or you won't do well in a job. It also builds agriculture work skills and we're giving back to the community and collaborating with them as well."