A Day at the White House, Part 2


By Xani Pollakoff

While tomato seeds dripped down the faces of our two year-old students, Bill Yosses, The White House Executive Pastry Chef, squatted down to show them the inside of a blossoming green pepper. Our curious kids, more engaged than ever, experienced a private tour of a lifetime, one that many families only dream of.

Standing on the narrow path between yellow squash and baby watermelons, the kids, parents and teachers of the Etzim class touched and smelled the herbs, vegetables and fruits growing in the White House Garden. They spent the morning learning about how pumpkin seeds are made, why tomatoes have green leaves at the top, and that much of the fruit and vegetables grown in the garden are from seeds descended from President Jefferson’s garden. Guarded by the quiet presence of three secret service agents, we listened as Bill enlightened us with details about making honey, composting, and how he transforms the plants in the garden into his famous White House pies. The children chimed in with stories of their own growing experiences, including how they carefully watered our own parsley garden inside of the Etzim classroom at the DCJCC over the Passover holiday season.

Our classroom name, Etzim, means trees in Hebrew. Our walls, stories and explorations during this past year have expanded the theme of growing. During the year we sang Tu B’shevat tree songs, used measuring sticks to create an Etzim height chart on our wall, and created a huge classroom tree out of recycled artwork. Our students explored growing when we planted seeds, took care of our very own plants, and observed changes as the plants grew over weeks and months. This most unique and memorable experience gave us a sweet end to a year full of learning.

We used all our senses during our once-in-a-lifetime trip. We tasted the most amazing tomatoes, smelled (and nibbled) lemon verbena leaves, and rubbed our tiny fingers along the flowers of a lavender bush. Our pictures are just small reminders of the huge memories of the most amazing day we spent learning and bonding at the White House!

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