Celebrating the Impact of Lakeside Students at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Lakeside students greenhouse display at PHS March 2024

Recently we had the opportunity and privilege of celebrating the Lakeside School Greenhouse students at the international Philadelphia Flower Show that occurred this March. I think it is remarkable that a small alternative school can compete with universities and others in such an amazing event. 

We were so pleased to celebrate our students and all that they had achieved this past year.

As a part of their educational process, they participate in the many activities in our greenhouse.   They grow plants, make products, sell to the public, maintain our grounds at Lakeside School and spend most of the winter and early spring designing, building and tweaking their flower show display. 

Not only do they build it to specifications, but they also tear it down, transport it, rebuild it at the flower show and then meet the public to explain their creation to thousands of attendees of the show. This year they recreated a South Philadelphia scene complete with building fronts, all kinds of innovative creations and a replication of what plants could be utilized in an urban situation. It was creative, dynamic and attracted thousands of viewers who were lined up to view and get into our display. 

We were able to give our students their own medals for placing Bronze by the PHS judges.  Representatives from the PHS came and affirmed them as a group. Some of our students spoke about how Lakeside and the Greenhouse Program had impacted them in many positive ways and how their futures would be impacted by all they had learned.

I had the privilege of speaking at this event and was able to affirm their creativity, their impact and how inspirational they were to thousands of people. Our greenhouse and facility management staff were also a big part of this event, and they too were affirmed and congratulated. It was truly an amazing day of encouragement for us all.

What I think is so important and something that I reminded them of is that they came to Lakeside with many life obstacles. Most of them had no idea that they had the capacity to be recognized for their work and giftedness at an international flower show. In their world they had very little impact and are likely labelled as kids with little capacity. Yet on this day they were acclaimed as being extremely successful, a trait they most likely had rarely heard in their lives. It was a day of true restoration for them.

We heard their enthusiasm, their future plans for a new life and how that process began in their tenure at Lakeside School and in their journey of growth in our greenhouse program.

As our staff, their parents, their peers and others heard the life changes that had occurred in their lives, it made a huge impact on us all. We had experienced a significant transformation that could set the stage for the rest of their lives. This day of recognition was inspirational and makes all the work and effort at Lakeside so meaningful.

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