Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Elementary students raise a garden in memory of a friend

TAMPA — Domestic violence is a tough lesson for children.

Here's how Ashley Chavez, a fifth-grader at Dunbar Elementary Magnet School, sees it:

"When someone is abusing someone in your house and in your family," she says, "you've got to do something."

Call 911. Go next door to a neighbor. Tell a grownup at school

The faculty at Ashley's school is teaching these lessons through an organic garden. Students have built raised beds, tilled the earth, planted vegetables, watered and decorated. On Tuesday, fifth-graders paired with kindergarteners to dig and plant peppers.

On the wooden sides of the beds, fifth-graders are painting peace signs, hearts and words of inspiration: Strength. Courage. Love.

The harvests from this garden will feed elderly residents at the nearby Mary McLeod Bethune high rise.

"They're going to have a good meal to cook up," said Roniesha Boyd, 12, ticking off the produce. "Bell peppers, broccoli, lettuce and green okra."

Throughout the school year, students walked to the high rise each month to give back. They sang songs, played violins, read stories and handed out homemade cards and cookies.

"They really have connected with them," says Melissa Jones, the lead teacher. "They were always excited to go."

But the children haven't been back since February. A link in the chain connecting the school to the residents was broken.

Erum Malik, 44, the event coordinator at the high rise, had planned bowling outings, walks at the park, trips to Walmart and birthday parties. The days when the children came were special.

She smiled and greeted each child. She always had a word of encouragement.

"She was a part of our Dunbar family," Jones said.

She was shot and killed Feb. 26 by her ex-husband, Malik Shamsher, who then shot himself.

School officials invited the residents to the garden's dedication on Friday. They plan to place a plaque with Malik's name in a central flower garden.

"We're going to continue serving the residents," Jones said. "What better way to remember her."

Elementary students raise a garden in memory of a friend 05/04/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 12:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]