Greenhouse grand opening highlights new renovations

Monday, December 5 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. the school hosted the Greenhouse Grand Opening as a celebration and unveiling of the new greenhouse. The Barrington Educational Foundation donated $200,000 to help fund this project. The money went to repairing damaged systems in the greenhouse and installing new technology for students.

“This space is just so exciting for kids to get their hands dirty. They can work with it; they can see the connection between biology and chemistry and horticulture and the culinary lab. Horticulture enrollment has doubled I think for next year so there’s a lot of interest,” Mary Dale, executive director of the Barrington Ed Foundation, said.

The greenhouse renovations include new multi-color, automated lights, automated watering, new shades, and repaired coolers all which allow students to better explore horticulture and earth science hands-on.

“The opportunities that this is going to present for us as educators, but more importantly, for the learners in this space– you can’t see it yet, but you’ll see it. It’s hard to capture it right now, but a lot of generations of students will be touched by this,” Principal Steve McWilliams said.

Lucas Allen, a program adviser for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE), first visited the greenhouse in the summer of 2021 to critique the previous greenhouse and its infrastructure. Now, he calls it one of the most prestigious in Northern Illinois.

“After the work your community has invested in this, I guarantee you have a greenhouse that is the envy of most community colleges in Northern Illinois and almost all high schools. You really have done a fantastic job,” Allen said.

Allen believes the greenhouse renovations are especially important for the students to gain knowledge in environmental literacy.

“As we look at global population growth– adding more than a billion people in the next 20 years– it’s important we give students the opportunity to explore careers in environmental conservation and plant science. That’s going to be the challenge that your generation has, to deal with hunger, environmental challenges and food insecurity,” Allen said. “Those are things that are addressed through environmental science and horticulture. That’s why it’s so helpful that your school is considering this.”