Elementary Lab dedicates new Hero Flagpole, outdoor classroom


NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University Elementary Lab School kicked off Memorial Day weekend May 28 by hosting a program to honor veterans, dedicate the school’s new Hero Flagpole and cut a ribbon to open a new outside classroom garden pavilion.

Fourth and fifth graders in the school 4-H Club prepared for the event by working with NSU ROTC to learn how to properly fold a flag and protocols for a flag-raising event. The flagpole will eventually include a memorial plaque recognizing veterans. The new flag was donated by American Legion Post 10.

The program began with a flag procession led by 4-H officers, and included the national anthem performed by parent vocalist Whitney Cummins, the Pledge of Allegiance led by 4-H members and student vocalist Darvy Allison singing “God Bless America,” accompanied by Dr. Sam Stokes, faculty in NSU’s School of Creative and Performing Arts. Students spoke about what the flag means to them and expressed appreciation for all U.S. veterans.

After cutting a ribbon for the new 20 x 30-foot covered pavilion, Lisa Wiggins, school librarian and 4-H sponsor, thanked those who assisted with the garden and the pavilion project, which was several years in development and funded with grants from Weyerhaeuser.  Wiggins credited the NSU grounds and maintenance crew, Dale Wohletz and Mead Goings; Principal Caron Coleman, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Grant Eloi and Pam Pearce and Randall Mallett with the LSU Ag Center for their assistance and support in constructing the outdoor classroom, which is adjacent to the school literacy garden and the nearby Hero Flagpole.

Wiggins said the literacy garden masks learning with fun activities that engage students in science, math, technology, reading and other academic disciplines.  As an example, fifth grade students performed a skit based on a book they wrote and illustrated, “Plant Wars:  The Rise of Aquaponics.” Wiggins said there are few fiction books for children that help them learn about aquaponics, a system that combines aquaculture with hydroponics to grow plants without soil.  To fill the void, the fifth graders wrote and illustrated their Star Wars-inspired story.

The literacy garden also provides service opportunities with produce donated to the NSU Food Pantry.  Students have already planted pumpkins seeds to be harvested later this year to include in baskets for the community.