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Teacher gives plants to GHS greenhouse

Posted Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 — 


Saul Shama’s wife has a green thumb, so much so that a jade plant that began as a seedling eight years ago now requires a dolly, two adults, and a truck to move it.


The plant was a present to Mr. Shama’s wife, Antoinette, and it was carefully pruned and cared for — even moved outside in the summer months — until it outgrew its own home.


“We didn’t have the space for it,” said Mr. Shama, who teaches English at Geneva High School. “And we love that plant.”


To further complicate matters, their youngest child, a one-year-old, has a habit of playing with the plants.


So, in search of a new home, Mr. Shama noticed the greenhouse at the high school was looking a bit sparse, and Shelley Walker, who teaches botany, was happy to accept the donation, which came with a bonus plant — a giant, 60-year-old cactus.


“My students were really excited about the addition of these plants, and we are hoping to learn about taking cuttings and growing plants from cuttings,” said Ms. Walker. “What I was hoping to do was have the students have their own individual little plant to inspire them to come to school each day to take care of it and watch it grow.”


The cactus will likely not be the subject of cuttings, although Ms. Walker thinks it is possible to take cuttings from a cactus, but will add to the variety of plants to care for. “Obviously, the cactus is not going to need as much water as the other plants. We’re actually going to be starting a plant unit, so they’re going to be learning about trees and different kinds of plants and flowers and seeds, so they’ll have the opportunity to be responsible for managing the watering of all of these plants too,” she said.


The cactus, Mr. Shama explained, belonged to his grandmother. “When my grandmother passed away in 2015, when everyone was cleaning out her apartment in New York City, my uncle nominated me to take care of the cactus, probably because my wife has a really green thumb,” he said.


The plants lived in his living room picture window but outgrew both the window and his ability to move them outside in the summer. “Just in the last couple years, I’ve had to sort of hug the jade to get it through the door, and then we repotted it, and it got really heavy, and I couldn’t lift it alone anymore,” said Mr. Shama.


But while the plants may no longer be a fixture in his home, he hopes his children will see them again one day.


“We’re Geneva residents, so my children could come here eventually and see the plants. My hope is that both of them just keep growing and growing,” said Mr. Shama.