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Golden Knights assist in Lawrence Avenue Elementary School’s courtyard

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POTSDAM — Members of the Clarkson University Golden Knights men’s hockey team lent a helping hand last week at Lawrence Avenue Elementary School to prepare the courtyard for spring planting.

“All the fourth-grade students have taken part in this as an Earth Day project,” said Joanne L. McCormick, a fourth-grade teacher at the school who oversees the building’s gardens. “The kids are having a ball.”

Students working outdoors typically enjoy themselves, but, Ms. McCormick said, having the hockey players help made this year’s project extra special.

“A lot of the kids follow Clarkson hockey,” she said. “We had a little girl on Tuesday who could name the entire lineup. The guys were impressed.”

Sam Labrecque, a sophomore defenseman from Montreal, said each of the players was given a team of students.

“I started with five kids and ended up with 20,” he said. “They just kept coming.”

“It’s really a great project,” he said. “I enjoyed working with the kids and seeing them out here having fun.”

Ms. McCormick, who co-teaches with Angelique Santimaw, said while the fourth grade takes the lead with the garden project, it is open to all grade levels.

Students from the fourth-grade classes taught by Emily McCabe, Brenda Martin and Rena Caruso and Judy Butler-Daggett participated in cleaning up the courtyard and preparing the planting beds.

While the courtyard houses several garden areas, Ms. McCormick said, that’s not its only use.

“Some classes come here for relaxation and reading, some use it for game play, some use it just to enjoy the outdoors and some use it for a learning experience,” she said.

Ms. McCormick said her students are reading “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

“We work in the courtyard and use that to correlate experiences detailed in the book,” she said.

Ms. McCormick, who also teaches summer school, said that’s one of the main reasons she takes the lead on the garden project.

“I’m here all summer, so we continue with garden project then,” she said. “We do a lot with the garden and then in the fall we harvest it. We’ll eat some of the vegetables in our classroom, and we have kids take them home, too.”

Students have planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lima beans, squash, carrots, radishes and flowers.

“We have chives growing already,” she said.

Ms. McCormick said the garden project is open to the entire school, with classes often adopting different beds or buckets to water.

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