CONNECTIONS is a Central Bucks High School Transition program located on the campus of Delaware Valley University. It serves special education students ages 19-21 who have met their graduation requirements and are working toward gaining competitive employment. The program prepares students for independence with fading supports, giving them the tools to safely access their community, the flexibility to handle unexpected situations, and the ability to self-advocate, among other social and employable skills.
At the beginning of the school year, the Connections class, with the help of Christopher Filling, Delaware Valley University's hydroponics greenhouse manager , planted bulbs with the hope of entering them into this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show. As part of the Connections Program, Mr. Filling was a wonderful asset to our students, assisting them from the beginning of the process all the way until the morning of the show. Mr. Filling provided a work space, growth space, and a wealth of knowledge. The students individually chose which bulbs would be planted and Mr. Filling then demonstrated proper planting techniques, helped in the planting process, and assisted with watering.
As a class, the students were responsible for weekly monitoring and weekly watering. The students took tremendous pride, not only in their individual plants but in their fellow classmate’s plants. The students enjoyed going to the greenhouse each week and seeing the progress. The whole process taught the students about patience, team work, and gratitude. Once the plants started to bloom, everyone became even more excited, and couldn’t wait to get to the flower show.
Riding the train line right outside their classroom window, the class conveniently took a Community-Based Instruction trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This trip provided the students with many new experiences and put into practice in a new environment some of the skills that they had mastered on campus. Students were responsible for registering their plants, mapping out a train route, figuring out a schedule, analyzing the cost, purchasing their own train tickets, determining a location for lunch, and purchasing lunch at the Reading Terminal Market.
The Connections trip to the flower show was a huge success. Of the 16 plants the students entered into the flower show, 15 -- yes, 15 -- received a winning ribbon! As a class, Connections received three honorable mentions, six third-place ribbons, three second-place ribbons, and two first-place ribbons. Amazingly, every student walked away with a winning flower! The students were so excited, not only for themselves, but also for each other. The class still can’t believe how well they did.
Source: Ms. Jennifer Stoler, Ms. Janet Kueny and Ms. Jamie Martin