Students from Las Cruces High School on Wednesday visited Valley View Elementary School to help students and staff tend to the school’s community garden. The high school students from William Sartriana and Kristin Gustine’s environmental science classes worked alongside six classes of first- through fifth-grade students to help clean up the garden, which had become a little overgrown over the summer.

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“This is amazing,” said Valley View third-grade teacher Sarah Vasquez. “At first, it was just two third-grade classes out here trying to get it under control. They’d pull grass and weeds, but were never able to make any real progress.”

Vasquez said her class uses the garden area, which includes an outdoor classroom, for many of their science lessons. Students use the garden to grow tomatoes, green chile, squash, peaches, pears, sunflowers and fresh herbs, such as rosemary and sage.

The flower beds were built by volunteers from La Semilla in 2010, which also provided the seeds. Valley View Principal Eloisa Solis said volunteers from Mesilla Park Community Church, NMSU, parents and teachers regularly help with the garden, as well. Wednesday was the first time LCHS students helped with the garden, but Solis said she hopes the relationship will continue to grow.

“Since the majority of our students end up going to Las Cruces High — we’re Bullpups, and they’re Bulldawgs — it just seems like a natural relationship,” Solis said. “It’s a great way to teach our students about respect for the environment, and helps them to take pride in their space. It also provides an opportunity for the older kids to be role models for our students.”

The Las Cruces High students taught the elementary students gardening techniques and provided encouragement, working collaboratively throughout the morning. The high school students were rewarded with snacks and pizza for their hard work.

— Damien Willis, LCPS Director of Communications, 575-527-5811,