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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
St. Joseph Central Elementary School third-grader Evan Hunt talks about his first-place spider plant.
education notebook

Students show off green thumbs

The secret to a robust, healthy-looking spider plant is in the watering – or rather, not watering, according to third-grader Evan Hunt.

“I think I only watered this about four times,” he said, pointing proudly to the first-place blue ribbon inside the plant. “You have to be very careful not to water it too much.”

Evan was one of dozens of students at St. Joseph Central Elementary School who received awards for their plant prowess during a ceremony Wednesday.

All Fort Wayne Community Schools elementary schools take part in the program, sponsored by the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. Evan and others who received blue ribbons will now take their prize-winning flowers and plants to the citywide show to compete against students from other schools. The event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the McMillen Ice Arena, 3900 Abbott St..

The parks department gives the students potted plants at the end of the school year. Each child takes a plant home and is responsible for its care through the summer months.

In the early 1920s, Park Superintendent Adolf Jaenicke organized a program with the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce to provide students with potted plants. That later evolved into the showing of those plants and later into the flower show.

The program is one of the oldest of its kind in the country, Parks Director Al Moll said.

Jackson Leonard, a second-grader at St. Joseph Central, pointed to a large pot of lush, red geraniums with multiple blooms.

“Those are mine,” Jackson said. “I just put them in the ground and kept watering them,” he said as to how he cultivated his blue ribbon crop. “Then I dug ’em up and put ’em in a pot and brought ’em to school.”

Oh yes, he suddenly remembered, he also fertilized and dead-headed the plant – pinching off the dead blooms – to promote growth.

Fourth-grader Gracie Horton didn’t give up when she got a third-place ribbon on her Sprengeri fern last year. She took it home and for the next year, gave it plenty of TLC. The first place blue ribbon attests to Gracie’s green thumb and new-found expertise.

The year wasn’t without its gardening perils.

Gracie watered the plant daily and moved it from one place to another to get the best exposure to the sun.

“But one day my mom set it outside and it was really hot and it turned white,” Gracie exclaimed in horror.

But Gracie was able to nurse the plant back to health, she said, and tactfully asked her mother to leave the horticulture to her fourth-grader.


• Bishop Dwenger High School is offering an ACT/SAT prep course from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Sept. 18 and ending Nov. 1. The classes are open to any high school student in the Allen County area. The fee is $195, which includes ACT and SAT textbooks. To register call, 496-4700 or go to


•Several students in grades 8-12 were recognized after creating their own animation and video games during the ACT I and ACT II – Adventures in Computing for Teens – summer exploration camps at IPFW. Receiving ACT 1 awards were Alex Steffen, Bishop Luers High School, most creative; Greg Shoda, Snider High School, best story; Jessica Kilgore-Smith, South Side High School, people’s choice. ACT II winners included: Zach Brown, Homestead High School, first place; Bradley Bellis, homeschool, second place; and Jessica Kilgore-Smith, South Side High School, people’s choice.

Deborah Blaz, a teacher at Angola High School, recently attended the 85th annual convention of the American Association of Teachers of French in Chicago, where she gave a presentation titled “Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About.” More than 500 French teachers from around the U.S. and from several other countries attended the conference.

Leslie Hook, a teacher in Fort Wayne, joined teachers from across the country at the Siemens STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Institute in Washington, D.C., for a week of learning about innovative STEM techniques. Hook and her colleagues also worked with leading scientists and researchers and took field trips to the White House and other leading institutions in the field. The fellowship was created by the Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education and their partners.


Sue Corbin has received a $2,500 Greenleaf Scholarship from Alpha Epsilon State, the Indiana chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. Corbin is the assistant special education director at Huntington County Community Schools and at Whitley County Consolidated Schools. She plans to use the award at Indiana State University, where she is working toward her doctorate.


•The First Lego League orientation, a free event, will be 4 to 5 p.m. Sept. 11 at IPFW, 2101 Coliseum Blvd. E. in the Walb Student Union 114-116. First Lego League is an international program for 9- to 14-year-olds that combines a hands-on, interactive robotics program and a research presentation with a sports-like atmosphere. Schools, youth organizations or families can form teams, and team registration is open until all slots are filled or Sept. 30. Learn more at

• The First Lego League Coach Clinic hosted by IPFW and Science Central will be at Science Central, 1950 N. Clinton St. 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20. There is a $5 clinic registration fee. To register, contact Becky Notestine at 481-4145 or email

Ivy Tech

•Appalachian Trail record holder and author Jennifer Pharr Davis will be the featured speaker as part of a series of free events provided by Ivy Tech’s INSPIRE Academy. At 2 p.m. Sept. 16 Pharr Davis will be at the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve, 1802 Chapman Road, Huntertown. An optional hike will follow the presentation. Space is limited. To reserve a seat, call the ACRES Land Trust office at 637-2273. On Sept. 17 she will speak at Ivy Tech’s Coliseum Campus auditorium, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd. from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Pharr Davis has hiked more than 11,000 miles of long distance trails across six continents and currently holds endurance records on the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail and Bibbulmun Track.

Education Notebook appears Mondays. To have an item listed, send a typed release from the school or organization to Education Notebook, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46802-0088; fax 461-8893; or email at least two weeks before the desired publication. Dean’s lists, honor society initiations, courses with fees and graduation and internship announcements are not accepted.