Thursday, March 29, 2018

Deer Park Elementary Honors Pratts for Years of Service to Students, Environment

Who: Deer Park Elementary School administration, teachers and students

What: Celebration of 28 years of school beautification projects at Deer Park Elementary

When: 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., Friday, March 30

Where: Deer Park Elementary School, 8636 Trouble Creek Road, New Port Richey, FL 34653

Why: Deer Park Elementary is celebrating Nancy and George Pratt’s tireless devotion to the school and teaching students environmental stewardship.

How: The event will include a parade of student council members wearing 29 years of Earth Day buttons, songs by the chorus, and a special presentation/reflection by recently retired principal Margie Polen. The event will end as students enjoy a well-deserved popsicle for their fund raising efforts and the Earth Patrol releases live butterflies on the site.

Background: Nancy was a teacher for more than 40 years and was a member of the first faculty when Deer Park opened in 1989. At that time, she and her husband George created a garden in the center of the school that is used for outdoor lessons and for families to enjoy lunch with their kids. Nancy and George have maintained the garden since its beginning, even in retirement. Nancy also created the character “Mother Earth” to teach students about doing their part to keep the earth clean; created a recycling committee at Deer Park called Earth Patrol; and started an art competition where students design an Earth Day related button with a given theme, which the school sells for fundraisers. Currently, there are 29 winning designs. Nancy and George have volunteered hundreds hours at many events during and after school and Nancy is a our teachers’ favorite substitute.

Students began raising funds in August 2017 to create a special student outdoor area at Deer Park Elementary to be known as Pratt’s Place, in honor of Nancy and George Pratt. Pratt’s Place is a picturesque shade tree surrounded by a circular wooden bench, known as a buddy bench, where students go to visit with a friend. Four additional shade trees have been added to the children’s play area in the Pratt’s honor, and a stone dedication plaque has been engraved with inspirational words Mrs. Pratt used often with students. The plaque is mounted on a pedestal and reads:

Our thanks to
Nancy and George Pratt
for their tireless devotion
preserving the natural beauty
of Deer Park Elementary.

With a smile on your face
And a song in your heart
Stretch out your neck
and reach for the top.

We invite you to sit
And rest in this place
Observe Mother Earth
The children at play.
And marvel at the clouds
As they travel today.