GREENVILLE –This weekend, many Darke County residents headed out to the festive shops downtown, looking for those special “one-of-a-kind” gifts. As moms, dads, and grandparents set out to browse the aisles, students from DeColores Montessori Elementary School enjoyed a morning of learning, fun, and creativity while decorating Gingerbread Houses to celebrate the start of the holiday season.
Lead by Mark Graber, manager of the DeColores Jr. High Farm School, and Melanie Miller, DeColores Jr. High instructor and Microeconomy Club coordinator, many pre-K through third grade students were treated to a fun, interactive experience of planning, building, and decorating gingerbread houses with a colorful (and tasty) array of candies, peppermints, and chocolates, followed by a pizza lunch with friends, and outdoor activities.
“This is the first year we tried making a Christmas project to help kids learn in a fun, creative way, while moms and dads can have a little time to go shopping for the holidays, and support the local business economy,” said Graber. “Maria Montessori taught that the hand teaches the mind. So, any time we can do projects that involve both creative expression and tactile experience, we encourage the kids to do them!”
Graber, an alum of the DeColores Montessori School (2000) and Greenville High School (2006), has also spent time abroad in New Zealand, furthering his study of sustainable farming and agriculture, and observing faculty and students at the respected Hershey Montessori Jr. High Farm Campus in Huntsburg, Ohio. Since June 2021, Graber has managed the DeColores Jr. High Farm, emphasizing the importance of practical applications and “real world” knowledge for today’s students.
“Our program encourages students to think about self-responsibility, the value of self-reliance and direct feedback and approach to problem-solving… a ‘real world’ application to education,” said Graber, noting that DeColores Jr. High students are encouraged to explore the concept of microeconomy by making and selling small batches of product, such as home-made apple butter, salsa, cards, candles, and soaps, as well as raising chickens at the Farm campus and offering eggs throughout the year. Now in its 35th year, DeColores Montessori has a total enrollment of 175 students between its Main Campus (Pre-K through Grade 6) and the Jr. High Farm Campus (Grades 7 through 9).
DeColores Jr. High students will offer some of their products for sale at their upcoming Holiday Concert on Saturday, December 11, at 2 p.m., at St. Clair Memorial Hall, 215 W. Fourth Street, in Greenville. Select products will be offered in the lobby before and after the event.
For more information on the concert, or to learn more about the DeColores Montessori School or DeColores Montessori Jr. High Farm Campus, call 937- 547-1334, or visit them at www.decoloresschool.org or on their Facebook page.