Celebrating a Gold Medal with Our Students!

A few weeks ago, I posted about the Philadelphia Flower Show and how the display for Lakeside School won a gold medal. It is quite an accomplishment when students from a small alternative school like Lakeside School can enter an international flower show, be judged by professional horticulture experts and actually win a gold medal!

Many of us recently met in our greenhouse with a ceremony to celebrate the achievements of our students and staff. This whole process began months ago with a design, a model created and the actual building of the entire structure and display in our greenhouse. Then before the flower show began, our students tore it all down, had it transported to the Philadelphia Convention Center and recreated it on the floor of the Philadelphia Flower Show. It is a laborious and very detailed project that took almost a week to assemble.

The judging is very competitive with an eye to ensure that the display is consistent with the theme of the flower show. The judges are horticultural experts and strive to see the entire display in terms of its beauty, consistency, creativity, experiential quality and amount of work and effort it took to create it. After passing that thorough evaluation, the students participating in our Lakeside Greenhouse program were granted the gold medal by the judges.

Teachers, school administrators, parents, our greenhouse students and staff, representatives from the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and even one of the judges all came to congratulate our students. The whole event was moving, celebratory, enthusiastic and very inspirational.

Several of us spoke which was a privilege. All the speakers had different perspectives about how proud we are of the Lakeside School students. Several of the students also spoke and talked about how coming to Lakeside School was such a positive influence in their lives and how working in the greenhouse gave them a place to display their strengths. They spoke of how they learned how to bring a project together with hard work and a team approach.

Our students were exhorted to continue their pursuits in horticulture and to be very proud of an accomplishment that few can achieve in the entire world. In fact, one of the PHS staff told our students that attendees at the flower show were asking them where the Lakeside display was on the floor. They reminded our students that they have a reputation to keep as a quality displayer at this international show.

More than anything this achievement was a reminder to us all that although our students are referred to our program because they have some significant life struggles, they can achieve more than they imagined. Many of them do not believe that they cannot accomplish their life goals. However, this celebration reminded them that there is little that they cannot achieve with the right mentors, structure, creativity and hard work. It is a microcosm of life that allowed them to see that they are both talented and capable in this moment and in life!

They were all so proud to receive their gold medals! We were gratified to see them receive that recognition. It served as increased motivation for us as well to continue in our work with our students at Lakeside. This kind of day reminds us of how valuable it is for us to believe in our students. With the right help they can grow, develop and be successful to overcome their life obstacles.

What an inspiration! What a great day!

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