Keeping the annual flower baskets program along Washington Street flourishing this year became a school-wide effort at Sequim High School.
Agriculture students began working on the flower baskets in early March but the 2019 novel coronavirus threat closed schools on March 17. That left a little less than half the baskets unfinished.
SHS agriculture teacher Steve Mahitka said students “cranked them out before school closed,” making about 75 of the 132 baskets.
With a hefty load left, Mahitka and fellow agriculture class teachers Lynette Jenné and Bill McFarlen enlisted help from fellow staffers. In two days, 14 teachers and paraeducators worked to finish the baskets, lining and planting baskets filled with geraniums and petunias.
McFarlen, the Sequim FFA advisor, said agriculture teachers had students plant three different colors of red, lipstick and raspberry to hold a competition of sorts between classes. COVID-19, however, put an end to any potential competition.
He said the students can still see their baskets with their colors across Washington Street.
Each school year, as many as 300 students participate in agriculture, horticulture and FFA classes in the greenhouse and classroom space, the teachers said.
Emily Westcott, coordinator for the flower basket program, said the 132 baskets will be placed out on June 1 by City of Sequim staff.
She is seeking sponsorships for the flower baskets at $100 per basket — or $50 split between sponsors — by calling her at 360-670-6294.
Last year, the fundraiser earned about $12,000 with half of the funds supporting the agriculture’s supplies for its annual plant sale, and the other helping Westcott pay for lights and supplies for Christmas lights in downtown Sequim.
“We’re really concerned about sponsors because many of the people who have sponsored in the past are businesses who have been hit hard (by the pandemic),” Westcott said.
She said people can sponsor a basket on behalf of a business and/or split the cost with a friend.
The flower baskets will go up through mid-October along Washington Street, and city crews will drive through every-other-day to water the baskets in the early morning.
Organizers started the Sequim High flower basket program in 1996 to support the FFA with about 50 baskets.
McFarlen said they look to replace the greenhouse on the City of Sequim’s property off South Second Avenue because snow warped the ceiling of the 1960s structure last winter. Completed flower baskets are stored in the greenhouse prior to going out on city streets.
McFarlen said they are seeking grants for the project.