NEW BRITAIN - â€śWe have to make sure theyâ€™re spread apart,â€ť one student told Mayor Erin Stewart of the flowers being planted one recent morning.
â€śIs this deep enough?â€ť Stewart asked, while digging a planting hole for the flower she was holding.
â€śYeah,â€ť several students responded, sounding excited.
The planting lesson came last week at Walnut Hill Park when several students and teachers from Lincoln Elementary School met with state Rep. William Petit Jr. and his Petit Family Foundation, the mayor and Zeena Tawfik of the cityâ€™s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. The group was planting four oâ€™clock flowers in a triangle garden at the end of Lexington Street, before the park begins, in honor of Petitâ€™s late daughter, Michaela, as part of Michaelaâ€™s Garden Project.
Michaela Petit was killed along with her sister, Hayley, and mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, during a Cheshire home invasion in 2007.
Four oâ€™clocks in particular, of the many plants that Michaela and her father would maintain over the years, were dear to Michaela, according to the foundationâ€™s website, petitfamilyfoundation.org.
â€śNew Britainâ€™s been a great partner, and the Public Works Department. Prepping the bed, making sure itâ€™s watered,â€ť said Petit. â€śThey (the students) learn. Itâ€™s community service and people get to enjoy it.â€ť
The group has been planting in the park for about four years, Tawfik said. The flowers were grown from seedlings prepared by NB Roots, which also holds gardening programs at several schools in the city. The students from Lincoln Elementary School were part of the â€śGreen Team,â€ť which is focused on planting, recycling and other environmental efforts.
Four oâ€™clocks can be planted anytime after Memorial Day and take about six weeks to bloom before lasting until the first frost, Petit said. He was helping give instruction to the students planting, such as spacing the flowers out so they can â€śbreathe in the ground.â€ť
â€śIt just turned into a jungle,â€ť Petit said of the effort last year, during which students excitedly covered the entire bed with the flowers.
â€śThank you, guys, for doing this,â€ť Stewart said after the planting. â€śIt means a lot to Representative Petit.â€ť
Following the planting session, the students, who were helping on their last day of the school year, and Stewart discussed summer plans, which included a trip to Florida for one student.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.