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Gardens provide hands-on science learning for Coastal Prep High School students

Jun 10, 2024

Through a donation from a local nursery, students planted herbs, fruits and vegetables for study.

Student holding vegetables

Raised garden beds, located at Coastal Preparatory High School, offer hands-on learning through biology and chemistry lessons for students

Cape May Court House, NJ — Coastal Preparatory High School (Coastal Prep) students established a series of raised garden beds offering students hands-on learning experience as part of their biology and chemistry classes. Through a generous donation from Church’s Nursey and Garden Center in Erma Park, the students planted many herbs, fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, kale, spinach, lettuce, onions, basil, dill and parsley. 

“Our community partners are always coming together to support our initiatives and help us provide a learning environment that goes above and beyond,” said Coastal Prep Transition Coordinator Anna Cannella. “Something as simple as these plants really make an impact on day-to-day learning and activities.”  

Interim Site Director Mike Hickman, along with teachers Jessica Pikolycky and Alyssa Sittineri, led this project from its inception, handling everything from idea generation and material procurement to establishing partnerships, constructing the beds, and cultivating the harvest. 

While caring for the plants, the classes explored the topics of plant cells, photosynthesis, integrated pest management and plant fertilization. In addition to providing a greater understanding and appreciation of horticulture and the environment, the outdoor classrooms offer a therapeutic benefit, providing time for students to connect with nature. Not only this, but students will have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor by sampling smoothies and other delicious treats. 

Coastal Prep is one of only three recovery high schools in the state focusing on prevention and support. A partnership between Middle Township School District and Cape Assist, the school ensures that students recovering from substance misuse can stay on track academically. This year, two students from Cape May County will graduate from Coastal Prep High School.  

Student chopping up vegetables to put into a smoothie.

Coastal Prep student chopping up vegetables to put into a smoothie.

“We’re grateful for the experiences we’re able to provide our Coastal students with and a lot of it is thanks to donations and partnerships from local organizations and businesses,” said Cape Assist Executive Director and CEO Katie Faldetta. “It’s not a typical high school experience, but it’s one where we know it’s providing value and opportunity to those who need it in an environment that’s supportive.”  

“Students have the opportunity to thrive in a learning environment when they see the support that not only comes from the teacher and the school, but the outside entities that also get involved,” said Middle Township School District Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Toni Lehman. “This community comes together for the best reasons, to participate and to support.”  

For more information on Coastal Prep, go to coastalprephighschool.com. Additional resources can also be found on the Middle Township School District website, middletownshippublicschools.org or the Cape Assist website, CapeAssist.org. 

Raised garden beds, located at Coastal Preparatory High School, offer hands-on learning through biology and chemistry lessons for students

Raised garden beds, located at Coastal Preparatory High School, offer hands-on learning through biology and chemistry lessons for students

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