IN-Tech school club gives power to flowers

Academy students reach out to neighbors to help beautify campus




The power of flowers and plants at a Kingsbridge middle school/high school was on display on a hot spring Saturday this past weekend.

“I really like growing plants,” said Luz Velazquez, an eighth-grader at IN-Tech Academy Middle School/High School 368 who took up gardening as a hobby during COVID.

“I’m happy and proud to help something grow. It helps the school and the environment.”

Keira Pizarro, a junior who is studying anatomy and wants to be an engineer, was impressed the school started the Flower Power Club.

“During a lot of my personal time, I’m into gardening,” she said. “In the fall, I asked about the Flower Power Club because I wanted to beautify the school.”

They were among about 30 students, parents and neighborhood residents at a ground-breaking for the beautification effort that was led by Geraldine Fredericks, a business teacher at the school. It included planting bee and butterfly, pollinator, Colocasia, and succulent gardens in the school’s courtyard.

The ground breaking signaled the start of an effort by IN-Tech principal David Weissberg and Fredericks to also involve the community in the gardening project.

“It is our hope that once the garden emerges, the Flower Power Club can partner with businesses to where they will be able to learn about the benefits to growing a garden in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way,” Fredericks said.

In addition to planting flowers and bushes outside the school, the club grows plants inside classrooms and hanging up student artwork.

One such piece, an acrylic “European family portrait of bees,” was painted live at the event by junior Analiz Corona.

“The goal of the club is to really have students understand the beautification of the school,” said Fredericks, who said the club has 20 members. “It fosters social activism and community service that will empower INTA students to become active citizens of their community.”

At the groundbreaking, Fredericks announced the school had landed a $2,700 grant from Citizens NYC that will be used for gardening tools, topsoil and sheds needed to store the tools. Some of that work with those tools was on display Saturday as students and teachers dug out tree roots, loosened up the soil and planted the flowers.

In addition to members of the club, Fredericks and AP English teacher Ali Calamia are recruiting other students to take some time during the day to tend the gardens. In fact, Calamia has her AP Literature students come out to the gardens when it is sunny. She has come up with a Shakespearean theme for one of the gardens, which includes flowers and plants depicted in his works.

IN-Tech focuses on students becoming technologically proficient, building strong work habits, literacy and core content instruction, according to Weissberg. The school was founded by principal Rose Fairweather-Clunie in 2000. The current campus opened in 2004.

The administration wants the gardens to reflect the sustainability of the school as it nears its 20th anniversary in 2024.

“The main thing is to maintain it (the gardens) for longevity,” Fredericks said. “The idea is to get some more students involved from all subject areas.”