Isaac Nagle works to install a lever that will open the roof to let in fresh air. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

GRAY — A new greenhouse at Gray-New Gloucester High School will give students the “opportunity to apply (skills) they’ve learned in the classroom” in a unique, hands-on environment, according to the school’s principal.

Students from the school’s ExCEL program, an alternative program for students who are at risk of not graduating for a variety of reasons, helped build the 19-foot-by-42-foot structure on Dec. 13.

From left, Jon Andreasen, Isaac Nagle, Janet Clemons and Calvin Keith inside the nearly-complete greenhouse. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

“This has been a dream of mine for 20 years,” said Janet Clemons, who teaches the program with Gail Myshrall.

The project was possible thanks to a $20,000 gift from Planson International in New Gloucester and a $6,000 gift from the Kids in Maine Foundation. Community members donated time and materials, helping to do site work or clear the lot on Libby Hill Road, between the high school and middle school.

Clemons said although she is unsure what the final cost of the project will be, the building itself costs $20,000 and will have heat, power and water.

“That’s still a work in progress,” she said. “A lot of that work won’t happen until the spring.”


Maine Garden Products in Howland delivered the greenhouse in pieces on Dec. 13 and helped the students assemble it in a single day. The cedar-framed greenhouse will be powered by a solar panel.

We’ve had a request for several years from our science teachers and teachers in our alternative education program and other programs that thought (a greenhouse) would be great,” said High School Principal Ted Finn. “It’s an opportunity to apply what (the students have) learned in the classroom.”

According to an article from Harvard Graduate School of Education, school gardens provide a crucial hands-on learning environment for children and also help students build emotional connections to food, which is important when trying to change behaviors in order to combat obesity.

The greenhouse will be used by various classes and groups at the high school, including ExCEL, science and health classes and others.

The ExCEL students will build tables for the greenhouse, and Clemons said her “goal is by the end of January to have one bed of some sort. Closer to the spring, we’ll start plants for our courtyard garden.” 

Finn said the building will be maintained by the school’s facilities department because it is “going to have to be kept clean and maintained for years to come.”

The new greenhouse was constructed on Dec. 13. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

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