By Robert Nathan

Killeen Daily Herald

Getting out of class can make a student's day special, but building a new garden makes the day memorable.

Fowler Elementary students celebrated the groundbreaking for their new outdoor learning center Friday. Students will now have the opportunity to learn about plants in the classroom and step outside to see the growth process in action in their new garden.

"The children will be able to take learning and bring it to an outdoor learning center," said fifth-grade science teacher Laura Holtz. "Several of us for quite sometime have wanted to get the garden out here."

The school is transforming its courtyard into a garden to grow vegetables for charitable donations and for making food products for fundraising events. The students plan to make salsa at the end of the school year.

Fourth Infantry Division soldiers from Fowler's Adopt-A-School unit assisted with constructing parts of the garden. Top soil and shovels were donated to the school by local businesses and homeowners.

"Finally, our dream is becoming a reality," Holtz said. "It's going to be beautiful soon."

Following the groundbreaking, Holtz assisted three fifth-grade students in the symbolic planting of three tomato plants in a bucket next to where the garden is being constructed.

"I think it's a very good celebration for other children to learn," said Leyhannie Leban, 11, one of the fifth-grade students who took part in the ceremony.

The planting of tomatoes was symbolic because it shows a commitment to a communitywide project. When the garden is complete, the three tomato plants will be transported from the bucket to the actual garden.

Julie Burke, Fowler Elementary campus instructional specialist, said the schoolwide gardening project will make math and science come alive and will make a difference in students' lives.

"It's about real life things and getting dirty," Burke said.

The outdoor learning center was made possible through a $3,000 grant from the Killeen ISD Education Foundation, which was funded by Time Warner Cable.

Holtz and Burke wrote the grant to obtain the money to create the garden.

"We work through the Killeen Education Foundation and provide funds for teachers to do innovative things in the classroom," said Vickie Carpenter, public affairs specialist for Time Warner Cable. "We are so excited to be part of this. I can't wait to come back and see what it looks like in a couple of months."

Contact Robert Nathan at

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