February 15, 2009
Denis Flanagan CLD
Manager of public relations

Denis FlanaganYouthful enthusiasm filled the room during the recent Niagara Falls Schools in Bloom. It was awards day at the MacBain Community Centre, and I was proud to represent LO at the event. I was also amazed that over a hundred high school students had gathered together for the ceremony — without an iPod in sight. They listened intently as Mayor Ted Salci praised their efforts: “As I drive past each school, I have seen students working together, creating beautiful gardens and making visible improvements to the appearance of our school.”

Another guest of honour, MPP Kim Craitor, told the students how he wished there had been a program like this when he was in school. He said he was so excited to see kids involved in the community, adding, “That is something that you cannot put a dollar value on.”

The speeches concluded with an address by Dame Julia Morton-Mar, an educator, peace advocate and three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. “You are turning the world around.” These were encouraging words to the students, who by now were getting a little fidgety and eager to learn the results in the awards presentation.

There were five schools recognized: A.N. Myer Secondary School (Best Special Needs Landscape Award), Saint Michael Catholic High School (Environmental Awareness Award), Stamford Collegiate (Most Innovative Techniques Award), Westlane Secondary School (Most Trees Planted Award).

When the winner of the top prize was announced, one would have thought Hannah Montana had just entered the room, greeted by shouting and screaming. It was great to see so much enthusiasm over a horticultural project.

And, the grand prize winner is...Saint Paul Catholic High School.  

This wonderful program was initated by the City of Niagara Falls, Niagara Parks and the NPC School of Horticulture. It is also supported by many local LO members and has encouraged hundreds of young people to be more aware of horticulture and the environment.
Denis Flanagan may be contacted at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com.

Caption: Denis Flanagan with Dame Julia Morton-Mar, an educator, peace advocate and three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.