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North Rowan PTA dedicates new reading garden

SPENCER — The North Rowan Middle School gymnasium was packed to standing room only May 22 as the school’s Parent-Teacher Association dedicated its new reading garden funded by the N.C. Parent-Teacher Association Just Ask Grant.
North Rowan was one of only eight schools in the state to receive the award. The school hosted an open house where parents, students and the community could come tour the new garden. The night also included a hot dog dinner, ability to see activities of student clubs and concluded with a concert featuring the band and chorus.
“We are really trying to change the dynamics of the PTA as well as the impression of our school in the community,” said Parent-Teacher Association President Christina Helm. “We have a wonderful school with amazing teachers, parents and students. Our goal this year has been to create a unity between the staff, families of our school, and the community. It’s a process, but the reading garden is a great way to begin that process.”
Media coordinator and member of the Parent-Teacher Association board Christina Brayton saw the opportunity for the grant while applying for another grant. She immediately thought of the reading garden and applied.
“I believe that quality, fun reading time is lacking in our schools. We talk about how literacy is important, but take up all the students’ time in which they could be reading for pleasure. Studies have found that reading for pleasure is more important to a child’s educational achievement than their family’s wealth or social class.”
The grant of $1,000 did not cover the entire cost of the project, so a number of volunteers and members from the community joined together to make things happen. More than 20 volunteers including parents, students, staff and the community came together May 3 and worked for more than five hours digging up weeds, planting trees and shrubs and putting out mulch.
Jonathan Williams, project manager at HDR Engineering, and husband to Assistant Principal Meredith Williams, drew up plans and led the team of volunteers. Donations and discounts from Chad Vriesma at Central Piedmont Builders, Bill Godley at Godley’s Garden Center and Shannon Corriher at Corriher Sand and Stone were also significant in the completion of the project.
The reading garden will enhance and extend the educational and instructional area to include the outdoor environment. Children are already enjoying the area and plans to make additional improvements and expansions are already in the works for United Way Day of Caring in the fall.
Since the reading garden project had become such a huge instrument in uniting the school, family and communities, the Parent-Teacher Association decided to dedicate it in honor of someone who had dedicated a lifetime to the improvement of schools and the community of Spencer. Assistant Principal Meredith Williams and her husband Jonathan were presented a plaque dedicating the garden to Williams’ deceased father, Eric Lentz.
Lentz was a member of Spencer Civitans, Spencer Community Appearance Commission, Citizens for Historic Spencer and the Spencer Hometown Holidays Committee. He was a Rowan County and North Carolina master gardener. He was a member of Rowan Partners for Education, and the Building and Grounds Committee for Rowan-Salisbury School System. Many Spencer Civitans were present in Lentz’s honor.

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