The Houston County school system wants its special education students to be more than prepared for the workforce.
In a vocational "victory class" program, students are learning how to do just that.
Mary Beth Gibson, is helping her classmate pick dead leaves off these more than 300 poinsettias, they are two of 29 students who are part of the Greenhouse Vocational Program.
Class Instructor Jeff Davis says, "We train these students to prepare them to go to work after high school, it’s a good program, the only one I know of around."
Since Sept. 1, students have potted, planted, and groomed the poinsettias, which come in freedom red, white, and rose, and are on sale to the general public. They also do woodwork, and learn daily living tasks
Gibson says, “It takes a lot of effort and a lot of patience, but if you want to do it, it's easier.”
Classmate John Stidel agrees, "We all gather all around, and help each other"
However, this project goes beyond the poinsettias or the borders of the classroom. Since it began a little more than 20 years ago, I’ve been told one student success story after another.
Davis says, "We have parents over the years that are so grateful that we train them, and they say they can really tell the difference in their work ethic.”
And while working, students say knowing their hard work will decorate someone’s home for the holidays, is an added thrill.
"It makes me feel happy," says Abby Martin, a student in the class, "Cause I love to feel happy."
Though the program is based in Houston County, the students are from around the Wiregrass. If you'd like to purchase a poinsettia, call 899-5411.
The poinsettias cost $12.50 each.