Students at Rock Hill middle school use repurposed COVID desk shields to build greenhouse

ROCK HILL, S.C. — As Earth Day is celebrated around the world, students at a Rock Hill middle school got outdoors to honor Mother Earth.

On Friday, Channel 9 was at Castle Heights Middle School where students were seen hard at work, going in and out of their new greenhouse.

“We are growing flowers and tomatoes and I think we’re going to start on cucumbers soon,” said eighth grader Madison Varnadore, who helps lead the greenhouse program.

But it’s way more than what it seems, as Social Studies teacher John Price explained.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a series of germ shields placed in classrooms. And me and a couple of other guys down the hallway would sit around and look at all this plexiglass they’re pulling out of here and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something with it,’” Price said.

They ended up getting a grant from SCDHEC to help build the greenhouse out of the repurposed desk shields.

“It feels really good. It’s refreshing to know that you’re doing something for somebody, or the planet,” Varnadore said.

All of the students are also learning really important skills, thanks to the greenhouse program.

“We’re putting a lot of stress and pressure on the environment as the population continues to increase and food prices are going up. They’re having to use more and more chemical fertilizers and pesticides so I think the ability to sustain yourself and your family is a life skill everybody should have,” Price said.

He said the goal is to add a rainwater collection system and compost system in the future.

(WATCH BELOW: Origin of Earth Day)