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McMahon Students Dig New Garden

Unlike some administrators, Brien McMahon High School principal Suzanne Brown Koroshetz isn't afraid to get her hands dirty--sometimes literally. Koroshetz was hefting a wheelbarrow full of topsoil, joining dozens of students, faculty and volunteers from Pepperidge Farms who worked in the Wednesday afternoon sun, transforming a grass courtyard into the first of the city's "edible schoolyard" gardens.

The crews cut and bolted lumber together to form raised beds that will be planted with seeds that will grow not only vegetables, but knowledge as well. "The possibilities for connections with the classroom are limitless," said Koroshetz. "Health, biology, chemistry, of course, but business students can come up with a plan to market the produce. Art students can design a logo. Everyone can find something."

The garden concept, which will be expanded to half of the city's schools this year, was initially conceived by Anthony Allison at the Norwalk Children's Foundation and put forth by Carol Marinaccio, the district's director of elementary education.

"We had a meeting of interested principals last spring, and one question was whether there would be enough people willing to do the work. My response was, we'd have a tough time finding enough work for everyone who would show up," said Koroshetz.

If Wednesday's groundbreaking was any indication, there is no shortage of bodies or enthusiasm. The courtyard resembled a construction jobsite, with saws whining and volunteers spreading soil.

Lisa Lenskold, owner of Green With Envy landscape and garden design who served as a consultant, found it a refreshing change. "I usually deal with residential, ornamental plants, so this was nice," said Lensko, who is also the newly elected PTOC president.

Schools Superintendent Susan Marks said the concept would be expanded districtwide, kindergarten through 12th grade. She charged McMahon students with being mentors and guides as the program expands. Based on their actions Wednesday, the students aren't afraid to get a little dirty, either.

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