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Third graders reunite to plant flowers for community

FORT KENT, Maine — Fort Kent Elementary School third graders were able to spend some time together for the first time in months, the week of May 18, when they participated in a service learning project at Corriveau’s Hilltop Blossoms.

The children have been engaged in distance learning since March when schools throughout Maine shut down to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

For 20 years, Tamar Philbrook’s third grade students have participated in the project which involves learning about gardening before planting flowers. The flowered plants are then donated to various local health care organizations and placed at the Veteran’s Memorial in Fort Kent. The students alternate annually between two local greenhouses, Pelletier’s Florist and Corriveau’s Hilltop Blossoms. 

This year, 32 students from all three third grade classes at the elementary school met at Corriveau’s during five separate planting sessions to keep the groups small enough to maintain social distancing. 

The young gardeners and their families planted 72 barrels of flowers which will be displayed at Crosswinds Residential Care, Forest Hill , NMMC (all buildings associated with), the Fort Kent Public Library, the Veteran’s Memorial in Fort Kent, and both the high school, and elementary school.


Philbrook said she was overjoyed to spend time with her students in person after so long. 

“The best part of this is physically seeing them,” Philbrook said. “Do you know what I love? It’s the noise, the sweet little voices, the excited voices.”

At the end of each school day, Philbrook said she always offers her students “a handshake, a high-five or a hug.” 

At Corriveau’s, Philbrook and her student Nathan Lizotte practiced a new “handshake” they developed which involves bumping elbows and feet while wearing masks. 

Lizotte said he enjoyed planting the flowers which he said are sure to “make people feel happy.” 

However, Lizotte’s favorite thing about participating in the service learning project iterates what so many students all over the country are feeling at this point. 

“I missed seeing my teacher,” he said.

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