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posted: Wed, Apr 11th, 2018
Jacob McCreery works in the middle school greenhouse

Greenhouse makeover

Big changes are coming to the Mount Olive Middle School greenhouse.

In the coming months, a hydroponic system will be installed that grows plants in nutrient-enriched water instead of soil and also provides the PVC piping and pump that will irrigate the plants automatically. This means a longer growing season since the system can function continuously over the summer with little maintenance. The change will allow fruits and vegetables to be cultivated. Currently, decorative plants are being grown, provided and maintained by teacher Gerald D’Albis who has decades of experience in the floral business.

The greenhouse initiative stems from the school’s science club. Led by seventh-grader Jacob McCreery, a team of students with an interest in horticulture researched various greenhouse improvements and developed a proposal. The students presented their plan and funding request to the board of education at a meeting in December. 

In addition to providing students with a hands-on growing experience, the greenhouse will also benefit the community. The science club intends to donate the harvested produce to a local food pantry. 

“I am so proud of the hard work and detail that the students put into their proposal,” said science teacher Rachel Eby, the club’s adviser. “They are so dedicated and determined to convert the greenhouse to hydroponics and give back to the community.” 

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce are slated to be grown first.

Besides the extension of the growing season and reduced need for human supervision, the hydroponic system has other benefits over traditional growing. It reduces crop failure, eliminates pest and weed problems, yields much more produce in the same space as growing in soil, and uses 90-95% less water through recycling and reuse.

Andrew Forrest and Morgan Kovach, below, work on the art department mural

Mural will present great works in art history

The works of Van Gogh, Monet, Klimt, Seurat, and many more artists are coming to MOMS. Student interpretations of master works from every major art movement will be featured in a sprawling mural. About 50 feet long, the art history mural will go around doors, lockers, pillars, and showcases in the art department corridor.

"Art is the Universal Language" is the theme.

“Art helps people from different races, religions, and cultures to come together,” said Melissa Silvestri, the art teacher who is spearheading the initiative. “And seeing artwork from different time periods and cultures helps you understand the world in which the artists were living.”

In addition to featuring iconic works from artists around the world, the mural will include words that describe the artistic process (e.g. creating, expressing, thinking, constructing, organizing, imagining) in a variety of different languages.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students in the gifted and talented art program are designing and painting the mural. They first researched artists that had a significant impact on the art world then designed sections of the mural with imagery representing the great masters. Ms. Silvestri blended the student designs into a cohesive final sketch. The walls were primed and the students have begun drawing the mural in pencil, a prelude for painting which will start in April.

The mural will also include two mosaic sections. The ceramic tiles will be created by art students in grades 6-8.

The mural should be completed in June.

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Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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Phone: 973.691.4006 Fax: 973.691.4029

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