McDonald’s teaming up with teachers for greenhouse project

EEKING AWAY AT IT — From left, SAD 61 School District Assistant Superintendent Deb Howard holds a $3,500 donation check from Berlin City Auto, along with Stevens Brook Elementary School Academic Leader Liz Shane, Grade 4 Teacher Jessica Hunt and SBES Principal Cheryl Turpin. The money is part of $10,000 raised to date for the school’s Greenhouse Project. The next fundraising effort for the project will take place Thursday, Feb. 12, form 5 to 7:30 p.m., when Turpin and six teachers will host a “McTeachers’ Night” at McDonald’s restaurant on Portland Road in Bridgton.

EEKING AWAY AT IT — From left, SAD 61 School District Assistant Superintendent Deb Howard holds a $3,500 donation check from Berlin City Auto, along with Stevens Brook Elementary School Academic Leader Liz Shane, Grade 4 Teacher Jessica Hunt and SBES Principal Cheryl Turpin. The money is part of $10,000 raised to date for the school’s Greenhouse Project. The next fundraising effort for the project will take place Thursday, Feb. 12, form 5 to 7:30 p.m., when Turpin and six teachers will host a “McTeachers’ Night” at McDonald’s restaurant on Portland Road in Bridgton.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton’s McDonald’s restaurant is teaming up with teachers at Stevens Brook Elementary School to raise funds for the school’s Greenhouse Project, the brainchild of Principal Cheryl Turpin.

On Thursday, Feb. 12, the restaurant on Portland Road will donate 20% of their food sales proceeds to the Greenhouse Project from 5 to 7:30 p.m., when Turpin and six Stevens Brook Elementary teachers take an active role in filling orders at the restaurant.

While Turpin greets customers at the door, six SBES teachers will each team up with a crew member to take front counter and drive-through orders, wipe off tables and return the trays to the kitchen. The more guests that eat at that time, the more money will be raised.

To add to the fun, radio station WHXR 106.3 FM will be doing a remote broadcast from the restaurant at the same time.

Turpin said she appreciates the willingness of local businesses like the Bridgton McDonald's to support the Greenhouse Project, because every little bit helps toward an ambitious $30,000 fundraising goal that will be supported entirely by donations. The school hopes to build a large enough greenhouse, perhaps 30’x40’, to hold a classroom of students at a time.

The relatively high price tag for the project includes not only the greenhouse building itself, but also necessary site work, providing handicapped access and bringing water to the structure.

Around $10,000 has been raised in the past few years toward the project, as shown by a mock thermometer stationed inside the school. A similar “McTeachers’ Night” was held at Kentucky Fried Chicken to raise funds for the project. Berlin City Auto also donated $3,500, and Mobile On The Run made a donation, Turpin said. ecomaine also contributed funding in support of the school’s existing composting program that will compliment the greenhouse operation. Three composting stalls were built thanks to ecomaine on pallets in the school’s courtyard.

When Barbara Roetman, wife of Bridgton McDonald’s franchise owner Ed Roetman, came forward offering to help with the greenhouse plans, Turpin was more than happy to say yes.

“Our vision is to build a teaching greenhouse, which would serve as an outdoor classroom where students would engage in hands-on learning,” said Turpin. “Students will learn basic horticulture, as well as the concepts of solar power and its use to provide heat and cooling for the greenhouse.”

Turpin said the greenhouse could also be used to teach environmental stewardship and concepts related to global warming, recycling, composting, and the benefits of organic gardening.

“Through experiential learning, students will develop an understanding of the importance of being able to provide food from seed to soil. Additionally, produce grown will be served in our cafeteria, with the surplus donated to the local food bank.”

Students at the school currently grow vegetables in several garden beds they maintain at the nearby Bridgton Community Center. Eventually, Turpin said she’d love to use the greenhouse to create a kind of “cash garden,” where flowers and perhaps vegetables can be grown and sold with the goal of making the Greenhouse Project self-sustaining.

There is also the long-range possibility of involving students from the Lake Region Vocational Center in the project. Turpin said the SAD #6 School District has created a “fairly significant” Greenhouse Project with several greenhouses.

Although Turpin definitely sees the Greenhouse Project as being a worthy educational endeavor, she said it is not the kind of program that she could include in her budget request to the SAD 61 School District, given other operational expenses at the school. So she said she’ll continue to rely on the generosity of businesses and individual donators.

“We’re slowly eeking away at it,” she said.

 

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