Story By Preslie Hirsch
Photo by Billy Hardiman
Find “diamond in the rough” in the
dictionary and a photo of Corona
del Sol High School’s greenhouse
may pop up right next to the definition.
Like the phrase implies, possibilities
grow best with nurturing.
Located behind a 36-yearold
campus building, the school’s
greenhouse lacks the care it deserves.
Home to educational lessons
through clubs, as well as in biology
and previously offered botany classes,
the long-established structure serves
as a hands-on learning experience for
Between her involvement in other
school gardens (like Kyrene Aprende
Middle School) and Corona on-campus
band events, Aztec parent Eduarda
Schroder witnessed a need for some
motivated garden enthusiasts who
weren’t afraid of a little dirt or the
“During a staff lunch sponsored
by the PTO on the last day of school,
I met Mr. Feldman, who told me all
about the greenhouse and how it would
be perfect for me to be involved,”
Schrodrer said. Feldman is now retired
and has moved to New York.
“He connected me with the
principal, Mr. Brown, who gave his
blessing as well. I have since met Mr.
Doyle, the science chair, who is excited
to see the garden being cared for.”
Backed by encouragement from
the Corona faculty, Schroder got to
work. The tasks are tiring but pay off
immensely in the overall appearance,
cleanliness and viability of the unit.
“Right now we continue weeding,
trimming bushes, cleaning and moving
smaller greenhouses closer to the
larger one. We have thrown away dried
plants, moved pots, trimmed trees,
raked and swept a lot, too,” Schroder
said. “Basically we determined what
was of no use and threw it in the
trash. The trash pile was massive and
has recently been moved away by the
A desire to work for free outside
in the middle of the summer seems
hard to grasp, although observers say
motivation in cases like Schroder’s
comes from a more personal place.
“I enjoy working outside; it
reminds me of my childhood
spent in Mozambique, where the
neighborhood kids spent a lot of
time outside playing in the fields and
being creative with local resources,”
she said. “Growing food is such a
fascinating experience that I want to
do it on a larger scale. This garden
has the potential to feed people in
need. It doesn’t get better than that.
It is worth all the scratches and achy
muscles. I also love seeing young
people get excited about restoring a
beautiful place as they bond while
Schroder plans for many
possibilities for the greenhouses’
“I envision growing vegetables
to be donated at the discretion of
the principal, an active participation
in growing said vegetables by the
culinary classes, and a nice picnic
table in a particular nice spot to be
used by faculty at lunch when the weather permits,”
“I know that it is also used by a class where
students learn survival skills. The garden has huge
Corona Principal Brent Brown agrees with the
tremendous learning experiences the well-cared-for
greenhouse will bring.
In addition to the up-close educational
opportunities for students, teachers have been
attending workshops on embracing the subject over
the past year to better understand the initiative.
“At Corona, we have the greenhouse and a garden
which teachers have used as part of their lessons in
teaching students about sustainability. They include
recycling, composting, agriculture, botany and
Others have joined the effort.
“In addition to the teachers who have
already been using the garden, we have
community members, led by Eduarda Shroder,
beginning to clean up the area and planning to
utilize the space to expand what we have been
doing with it,” Brown said.
“We are looking into growing vegetables
which can be used by the culinary classes.
Also housed in that area is the fuel cell where
students can go and learn about the conversion
process from natural gas to electricity.
“That powers the greenhouse currently—
something not a lot people know about.”
Those interested in the project can donate
to the cause in a couple different ways.
“We are still doing inventory of the tools,
which look to be plenty,” Schroder said. “We
welcome volunteers. They would help with
tasks like watering, raking and sweeping once
we are done with the cleaning stage.
“What we need most are outdoor tables and
chairs. The volunteers need them, and they will
be wonderful for visitors to use.”
The work doesn’t stop at the garden.
Exceeding 200 views so far, Schroder takes
time to blog about the development of the project
online, titling it “Corona Grows.”
Members of the community, including former
biology and botany teacher Barry Feldman and
Corona supporters, can follow its progress through
text and pictures published by Schroder at: