Community Gardens to grow in two locations by BETH ALTENA If you don’t have a spot for a plot on your lot, your site isn’t sunny or you just have a bad case of black thumb, Rockford Public Schools (RPS) has just the fix. RPS unveiled last week plans for two community gardens, open to individuals, businesses or groups, complete with help from multiple master gardeners. “Apparently great minds think alike,” said Lisa Jacobs, director of RPS Community Services. A local restaurant sous chef, a group of environmentally minded middle school students and RPS staff all began thinking of the possibilities of a community garden and how one organized by the school might happen. Michael Farrell, sous chef at Reds on the River, approached RPS to talk about starting such an endeavor and found out the school was already putting together a tentative proposal for a community garden system. That was a year ago, and plans have blossomed into a new way for the community to partner with the schools and grow their own flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. “We are so out-of-our minds excited,” said Meredith Gremel, of Gremel Communications, who is helping organize the gardens along with Jacobs. A kick-off meeting was held Tuesday, Feb. 15 at the Rockford Freshman Center, and the public turnout showed the strong interest in sharing ground for growing at two locations. The Community Gardens are planned for the administration building at 330 North Main Street in downtown Rockford and East Rockford Middle School at 8615 9 Mile Road. Students at East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) participate in Earthkeepers, a magnet focused on environmental and nature studies (see related story, page 8). As they used nature-related ideas to learn language arts, math, science, social studies and more, the idea of creating a garden on the property of the school came up. Principal Mike Ramm saw the possibilities. “Earthkeepers is about getting your hands dirty while learning,” Ramm said. “That gave ERMS the idea of a garden.” He said the possibilities of skills needed in gardening, architectural and structural, healthy living and foods, math and budgeting, all can be used in planning and growing a garden. According to Ramm, one extremely enthusiastic student, John Wiley, really pushed for the […]
February 24 2011
by BETH ALTENA “I can’t believe it’s been ten years,” said Rockford photographer Dan Davison of Douglas Photography. Davison brought the Examples in Excellence program to Rockford Public Schools (RPS) a decade ago. In the years since RPS, Davison and The Rockford Squire newspaper have been working together to recognize a very special group of students. Rockford is known to be a powerhouse in athletics with dozens of state championships. It is also a leader in education, known as one of the state’s most desirable districts and the only district of its size to have every building a Blue Ribbon Exemplary School. The district is the only one in the state, however, that has a formal ceremony to recognize students for an entirely different reason than either academic or athletic achievement. In Rockford, students are also honored and recognized for strength of character. Examples in Excellence, Rockford Students Making a Difference is a three-part program. Staff from each school in the district, from elementary on up to the alternative high school, pick a student on the basis of being a good community citizen and for what they do for others. After meeting with the students, Davison creates a portrait which tells about the young man’s or woman’s personality and activities, which he then mounts on a board which is on prominent display at the administration building for a full year. The Squire contributes by producing biographies of each student and publishing them, along with the portraits, in an heirloom, keepsake publication on high-quality paper to last a lifetime. This year’s students, as in the past, are the ones who are often overlooked, despite their good deeds. “Examples” kids are students who don’t necessarily command attention or make a big deal out of their efforts. They might not be the star in the athletic arena and might not be the first to raise their hand when teachers ask for answers. What they are, are people who, at a young age, already get what is really important in life: looking out for others and doing the right thing. This year’s students include a girl who volunteers at the Kent County Humane Society, a ten-year-old who has a mind for business and a girl with a spirit of […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Recently the City of Rockford installed a plaque recognizing Steve Anderson of Anderson’s Metal Sculpture. Squire readers will recall last May’s installation of the beautiful stainless steel “Water Dance” sculpture on the face of the Rockford Dam. Located above the three-fish sculpture, the plaque honors the sculptor for his work of art and his generous donation of all labors in bringing “Water Dance” to life. Also recognized were the Downtown Development Authority, the Rockford Area Arts Commission, and the City of Rockford for their financial support in part. “Water Dance” has transformed the face of the dam and has been enjoyed by countless visitors since its installation. An informal survey conducted by The Rockford Squire following the installation indicates that most viewers believe the cement wall background of the sculpture should be painted to showcase and make “Water Dance” more highly visible. In viewing the sculpture from the dam overlook or the Bridge Street bridge, one finds the work of art blending into the background. A background color suggested most often was “flat black.” Most believed that the gleaming stainless steel fish would really “pop” leaping against a black background. What do you think? Call the Squire office at (616) 866-4465 and give us your opinion.