Xenia fifth-graders, from left, Nadia Lewis, Maddi Janowiecki and Cory Pham look at possible flowers to include in their adoption of a flower pot and landscape island in the downtown area as part of the city’s Bloom with Xenia program. RICHARD WILSON/STAFF

Xenia students visit downtown businesses, take learning outside

Students in the X.T.A.R. gifted program in Xenia Community Schools are getting out of the classroom to learn more about the community and the value of service to others.

The fourth- and fifth-graders volunteered recently to work shifts at Xenia’s One Bistro on East Main Street. The students also delivered messages of gratitude to businesses in the downtown area and are working to beautify the city through the Bloom with Xenia program.

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“You can never really start too young teaching kids about service learning. Age really isn’t a factor in doing good for others,” said Donna Shaw, Xenia schools gifted coordinator.

The students met with City Manager Brent Merriman and had lunch at the Coffee Hub, 81 E. Main St.

Shaw said the activities come on the heels of classroom lessons on food scarcity and hunger, in which the students cultivated and harvested vegetables through a partnership with Central State University.

Shaw said getting the students interacting with business owners helps in-part to teach them about the importance of supporting local businesses and “what it means to give back.”

“We want the community to embrace our kids and to realize they’re out doing good things,” she said. “Hopefully we’re fostering a sense of service … so that as they continue to grow and mature that they’re always cognizant of the fact that they are able to be change agents and they can make a difference wherever they’re at.”

The students gathered around the benches in front of the Greene County Courthouse. Some gathered in small groups to choose flowers they want to plant in a nearby concrete pot and a landscape island. The students and their families are volunteering to plant and care for the flowers through the summer.

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The students visited Barr’s Pharmacy, which opened in October 2017, and delivered a token of appreciation to Pharmacist Erin Dill.

Dill, who has two children in the X.T.A.R. program, said moving the classroom outside in the community is a great learning opportunity for all children “whether they are gifted or not.”

“It’s so hands-on. It gives them experience that most other kids in the classroom are not getting,” Dill said.

The X.T.A.R. Young Entrepreneurs Project Showcase, where you can buy products and support the students’ business ventures, is scheduled from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. May 7.

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