Vestavia Hills Living


Official magazine published by the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce for the City of Vestavia Hills which details the quality of life, education, shopping and lifestyle of Vestavia Hills.

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Page 34 of 150

Reading buddies work with younger students to build confidence and self-esteem, establish friendships, and boost reading skills. The Chess Knights assist younger students and beginners in learning the game of chess. All fifth graders serve on Safety Patrol to greet students, open car doors, and increase safety each day during morning and afternoon carpool. Students and parents gather frequently for Green Team on Saturdays to plant flowers and trees, spread mulch and pebbles, and make vital improvements to beautify the school campus. Cahaba Heights students also give back to their wider community. In just one week, students collected over 1,185 canned goods for the CAN-uary Food Drive to benefit local food banks. On the first Friday of each month, students on the Serve Team collect soda can tabs from each classroom. The tabs are weighed and then donated to the local Ronald McDonald House. At Christmastime, Cahaba Heights students and families gave time and gifts to grant wishes of 54 children in need. Pajamas, shoes, toys, and bicycles flooded the school to help make the holidays much brighter for local children. In December, students also gathered early before school to create holiday cards for the residents at local nursing homes. "Students felt pure joy while spreading good cheer to others during the holidays," Tucker says. This year, students will donate new and gently used books to the Birmingham Reads Book Challenge to benefit area students who do not have the luxury of owning books at home. In anticipation of the annual spring book fair, students will excitedly sort through their old books and box them up to donate for other children to enjoy. "This pay-it-forward mentality is a lifelong lesson in giving, sharing, and appreciating what we have," Tucker says. "Participation in community service and school leadership teams produces unique opportunities to unite students in a common cause. Beyond the academic realm, students acquire real-world experience by leading, serving, and getting involved at VHECH." V E S T A V I A H I L L S E L E M E N T A R Y – L I B E R T Y P A R K An abandoned garden plot at Liberty Park Elementary has been transformed into a blooming bonanza, where children are learning about nature, nutrition and the fruits of hard work. "Today's boys and girls have fantastic knowl- edge and skills in the area of technology, but many have not developed their naturalistic intelligence," says Principal Ty Arendall. "There's nothing better for these kids than being able to discover the wonders of the natural world. Plus, what kid doesn't like digging in the dirt?" In early 2012, Child Nutrition Program Manager Amy Long and PTO Grounds Chair Paige Sykes created a vision of what the garden could be. With help from the Alabama Farmers Cooperative, area nurseries and VHELP alumni and Eagle Scout Chad Vianey, the garden was completely renovated during the 2012-2013 school year. The garden has become a vital part of the school community this year. Betsy Joyner, current PTO Grounds Chair, has helped make sure every student visits the garden. "Students and parents have planted, watered and harvested vegetables," Long says. "They have had the opportunity to learn about seasonal growing, life cycles, garden pests, helpful insects, composting and basic plant facts. The garden also enhances science lessons through experimentation and creates a higher level of environmental awareness." In October, kindergarteners, first and second graders toured the garden with the school librarian for "Creepy Carrot Story Time." Best of all, when a class harvests vegetables, the school kitchen workers wash and prepare them so students are able to see the food go "from the ground to the table," Long says. This year, students have grown and eaten sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, 30 v e s tav i a h i l l s l i v i n g 2 0 1 4

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