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GRASS CLASS: CHHS students learn to manage turf

When the bell rings for second period at Charles Henderson High School, 11 students put down their pencils and pick up weed-eaters and edgers instead.

That’s because they’re part of the new turf management class at CHHS, taught by head baseball coach Josey Shannon.

“(Principal) Brock Kelley needed a coach around June or July and we had known each other for a while, so he reached out to me for the job,” Shannon said. “One of the things I think stood out to Dr. (Lee) Hicks is that I have a passion to make a ball field look right and he likes everything neat and tidy. Field maintenance is a strong suit of mine.

“So then Mr. Kelley approached me and said ‘Hey, the way you work is something we may be able to offer the ids as a class.’ I was all for it.”

Shannon said the high school doesn’t have any agri-science courses, so this is filled a need at the school.

He said the class is about more than just cutting grass.

“They learn about what chemicals to use, how to fertilize, they learn about irrigation, the types of grass, when to plant – we do a lot more than just mowing,” Shannon said. “This is something these students can take if they’re ever going to get into the golf course industry, a city recreation center, lawn maintenance or landscaping – we’ve done so many things. I’ve taught them how to change weed-eater string and sharpen lawn mower blades. Even if they choose not to make a career out of it, these are things they can apply at home.”

Shannon said he’s even taught the students about the bidding process in case they ever get to a point in their career where they are bidding out services.

The class was experimental, Shannon said. He and Kelley decided to offer it and see how the students responded. The class quickly grew from three students to 11, and Kelley said the school is now looking at expanding the program with other students gaining interest.

Braxton Wilkins said he joined the class early and looks forward to it every day.

“Whenever I come to school, I can’t wait to get out of my first period class to get out here,” Wilkins said. “It’s the class I look forward to every day. I’ve always liked to cut the grass around the house. Out here I’ve learned how to use an edger and all that too, so that is helpful.”

Shannon said the class plans to do some landscaping around the school and help beautify the facility as the students learn.