Dalton Public Schools News

Dalton High School Launches New Botany Class
Dalton High School Launches New Botany Class
Two students looking at flower

Students attending Dalton High School will have the opportunity to enroll in a new class this year. Teachers Chase Pritchett, Annette Buckner and Sharlinda Haight created the botany class as an elective for students who are interested in learning more about plants, sustainability and science.

The idea for the class came because of an available greenhouse located at Dalton High. Pritchett noticed that the greenhouse on Dalton High's campus wasn't being utilized to its full potential.

Pritchett said the greenhouse was previously used for horticulture and agriculture classes, but that teacher has since moved on. While the greenhouse is used some for environmental science classes, it could be used significantly more.

"It's got a lot of good modern technology in it, it's got a great irrigation system," Pritchett said. "It has all the equipment we needed to have a botany or horticulture class. We discussed it with Mrs. Ashlock, our assistant principal, at the end of the school year about adding a class that could be considered an elective, something for the upperclassmen, aligned with some of the new content that Georgia added for science."

The class will focus on hands-on activities for students. Buckner said students will be focusing on hydroponic gardening systems. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel or liquid, without using any soil.

"That's going to be really neat for students to see how they can grow lettuce hydroponically, as opposed to growing it outside," Buckner said. "Students can then compare the taste and see the difference when you use a hydroponic system."

Pritchett said this focus on hydroponics will not only help students learn more about botany, but it will also be a partnership with the local community and with other students at Dalton High.

"We're trying to work with our community, and with the culinary department, to create a model for self-sustainability," Pritchett said.

Two students working on flower

In this self-sustainability model, the class has connected with local restaurants who will donate old food for the class to compost. The compost will then be used to grow the plants. Once the plants are grown, they will be given to the culinary department for them to cook with.

"It gives the students a good idea of how self-sustainability actually works, instead of just having to memorize vocabulary terms or see it in a video or a book," Prichett said. "Being able to do hands-on work is the biggest aspect for us, it's what we wanted. We knew we could convey that concept to them a lot easier if we had a class like this to do it."

Buckner said the three teachers leading the class all bring different areas of expertise and passion to the class.

"We all three have a passion for this class, and we all three bring something different to it," Buckner said. "We all work very, very well together. Chase is really good with the greenhouse stuff, and figuring out the irrigation and the hydroponics. Sharlinda brings the chemistry aspect to it, she's great with plants as well. I love plants, and this is definitely my passion, teaching kids about plants. We all three bring something different but it meshes together really well."

The program is still new, and both Buckner and Pritchett said it is evolving day by day.

"It's a fluid situation right now," Pritchet said. "We'll know more in the next few months what we're capable of doing."