Plant, flower setup designed by SCHS students

Collaboration between city, school gives horticulture classes chance to put learning to work
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Hanging baskets are going up in the downtown corridor of Shawano, and flowers are starting to appear in a variety of planters around the city.

The plants and flowers generate a lot of comments from residents and visitors alike, but where they come from has been one of Shawano’s best kept secrets. Instead of paying a professional company or greenhouse for the work, they’re the culmination of a school year’s worth of work by horticulture students at Shawano Community High School. The students have done everything from watering and tending to the plants to developing plans on how they will be displayed in planters for the summer.

It’s not clear how long the high school has been collaborating with the city’s tree advisory committee to keep Shawano beautiful, but officials on both sides estimate the work has been going on for at least a decade. There are 48 planters in the downtown corridor alone and another 23 throughout the city, and the students provide the framework for it all.

“We all came up with our own designs to put into these city planters,” said student Levi Wendorff. “We designed and got approved over other people and another class for specific areas like Huckleberry Harbor, CoVantage, Hardee’s. We set aside the plants for those specific planters.”

Plans on paper are one thing, but Wendorff is eager to see what the finished product looks like.

“It’s going to be nice to see what other people think about it,” Wendorff said.

Jack Sumnicht, another SCHS student, originally thought getting involved with the city planter project was going to be a fun alternative to a class with lectures and tests, but he found out there was a lot of hard work to make the project happen.

“It felt good to get involved with the city,” Sumnicht said. “Even though we’re young, we tend to be overlooked. So it’s good that we have a part in the beauty of the city, and people all around the county and all around the state get to see it.”

Sumnicht handled watering and fertilizing the plants, which involved careful measuring. He said that most of the plants they started with made it to the transfer stage.

“We trimmed if anything got out of hand,” Sumnicht said. “We just handled the maintenance of the plants. There were a couple of outliers where aphids struck and ended up getting some, but it was a lot more success than it was failure.”

Sumnicht said that, when he learned one of his planters was going out in the city, he told his father in the hopes he would see it and be proud.

“I’m hoping that a lot of others will feel the same way,” Sumnicht said. “I hope they know that tracks down to us at the high school, knowing that we played a part in it.”

For the planters to be approved, the students had to make a presentation to the committee that showed what would be planted where. Marilyn Kroenke, committee vice president, said the planning included specific colors that change from year to year.

“Last year, they came up with a design with a lot of oranges. This year, it’s hot pink,” Kroenke said. “Every pot had to have pink in it. I’m going to hold my breath and see what the city thinks, because all the hanging baskets have pink in them.”

Besides the mandatory pink, the designed pots and hanging baskets will include lavender, yellow and white.

“It’s going to look more uniform, but it’s the kids who picked the pink,” Kroenke said.