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Veterans get their hands dirty in effort to help students grow Patty Chavez | Sat, May 09 2015 12:00 PM

Recently local veterans, businesses, community leaders and youth volunteers spent the morning together repairing garden beds, planting, mulching and building an outdoor classroom area for middle school students.

Led by The Mission Continues, a post-911 veterans group, in partnership with South Bay Community Services and title sponsor BAE Systems, the group revitalized an edible garden at Hilltop Middle School with help from contributing sponsor Starbucks.

United by the common bond of military service, The Mission Continues offers veterans the opportunity to make an impact in their community, and connect with others through community service, social and networking events.

Activities like these are also an important part of transitioning back to civilian life, according to platoon leader Roxana Mejia.

“We are a new generation of veterans, capable of not only doing great things for our country,” Mejia said, “but also for our communities.”

The revitalized garden will be part of SBCS’s Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood’s new curriculum designed to teach students fundamentals of gardening, composting and healthy cooking. School gardens can also help reinforce healthy eating choices.

“Students will learn how to plant, cultivate and harvest,” Kathryn Lembo, SBCS CEO, said. “We hope as they are doing this, students will be more willing to try new vegetables, like them and eat healthy on a regular basis.”

Healthy gardens are part of the overall goals of Sweetwater Union High School District’s nutrition services. More than half of the schools in the district have student-led gardens. Partnerships like these help enhance and sustain the gardens as well as teach students about collaboration and teamwork.

“Educating our youth extends beyond the classroom doors,” Hilltop Middle School Principal Griselda Delgado said, “It’s partnerships like these that provide students invaluable extended learning opportunities.”

CVPromise is coordinated by South Bay Community Services and is proud to partner with Castle Park Elementary,

Castle Park Middle, Castle Park High, Hilltop Middle and Hilltop High schools to bring new opportunities and pathways of success for their students and families. For more information, visit CVPromise.org or call (619) 422-5005.

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