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POP Joins Rotary Planting School Pollinator Gardens



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The Newtown Rotary Club and Protect Our Pollinators (POP) nonprofit organization teamed up to plant pollinator gardens at all four of Newtown’s public elementary schools.

As Alex Villamil, Newtown Rotary Club president, explained recently, the environment is one of the club’s focus areas.

Villamil shared that Newtown Rotary Club member David Freedman had the idea to create pollinator gardens at the elementary schools, so the club purchased “friendship gardens” from the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary and scheduled the effort for the end of September at the local schools.

The effort was coordinated with the principals at each school and with POP’s Holly Kocet.

By the end of the last week in September, gardens had been planted at all of Newtown’s public elementary schools — Hawley Elementary School, Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, Middle Gate Elementary School, and Sandy Hook Elementary School.

At each school Kocet and Villamil, Newtown Rotary Club volunteers, and school representatives prepped an area for the garden, met with students to discuss pollinators, and then planted seedlings with the help of students. Newtown Parks & Recreation donated mulch, and Boy Scouts from Troops 370 and 270 also supported the effort.

“I’m ecstatic at how well everybody worked together,” said Villamil.

At Head O’ Meadow on September 30, Kocet explained to second grade students that pollinators are attracted to the pollen in plants.

“Bees are our best local pollinator... And there are many different kinds,” Kocet said.

While holding up large images of plants, Kocet explained the different kinds of pollinators that are attracted to different plants.

“Your garden is really going to be good for the beneficial insects,” Kocet said.

Villamil told the gathered students that while the planting was happening this fall, the Newtown Rotary Club and POP volunteers would visit again in the spring to check on the garden when bees, butterflies, and other pollinators will be in abundance.

Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at eliza@thebee.com.

Head O’ Meadow second grade student Raina Curi prepares a seedling to be planted with the help of school Principal Tim Napolitano. —Bee Photo, Hallabeck
Mia Dore, left, and Juliana Dominguez work together at Hawley Elementary School to plant a seedling. —Christopher Moretti photo
Newtown Rotary Club President Alex Villamil speaks to students at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
A Head O’ Meadow Elementary School student studies a picture of a bee. —Bee Photo, Hallabeck
Protect Our Pollinators’s (POP) Holly Kocet speaks to students at Middle Gate Elementary School. —Bee Photo, Hallabeck
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