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First lady praises literacy garden at Hall school office as model for Georgia
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Kathy Lovett welcomes guests Wednesday during the dedication ceremony for the literacy garden at Gardens on Green in Gainesville. It is the seventh garden at Gardens on Green, located outside of the Hall County School District office. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Instead of a speech, Georgia first lady Sandra Deal used her time during during Wednesday’s dedication of the new literacy garden next to the Hall County School District Office to read a book to a class of kindergarten students from Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science.

The book she read was “The Strange Journey of Byron and Cyrus,” by Sandy Meyer. Deal told the kids the book was about friendship and an “imaginative story from a garden.”

“You can develop your imagination because this is a place to love the outdoors and to have a great time learning and imagining and playing with your friends,” she told the students.
A crowd of school, city and county officials were joined by Master Gardeners and other residents to celebrate the dedication of the garden geared toward providing a place for younger children to play and have a chance to learn more about classic children’s stories. The garden is the seventh of the Gardens on Green. Among the many features are laminated children’s books for kids to read with family and friends, a Jack and Jill hill to play on, and a stage with a chair where Deal read the story about the caterpillar and spider who became friends.

Deal praised the leadership efforts of Kathy Lovett, wife of Hall County Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett, to make the dream of the literacy garden a reality.

“She took a place that was full of ivy and a sort of discarded area and has made it into a beautiful place for young children — toddlers up to probably second grade — to enjoy this,” Deal said. “It’s a great place for them to play and enjoy learning to read and trying the different activities that would help them learn to read.”

The first lady said the activities in the garden are a great alternative to “sitting in a chair all day and watching television and playing video games.”

“It’s just a great asset for Gainesville and really for Georgia,” Deal said. “It’s a model for Georgia and for other states for them to come and see what Kathy’s dream has been and how it’s been realized through very creative people.”

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said the dedication was “an opportunity to celebrate the power of the human spirit.”

“I believe it was Plato who suggested that minds come into this world as a blank slate and that through experiences, and positives and negatives, through arms around the shoulder, through stories told, those blank slates begin to become etched,” he said. “Those blank slates turn into little folks who turn into bigger folks to be the leaders of tomorrow.

“Those of us who believe that there is still a lot of good in this world need to spend time pouring into spaces such as this where those young blank slates can be etched and be nurtured and be loved and turn into the kind of good and right and noble and true adults and leaders of tomorrow that we all dream and hope and pray for.”

Kathy Lovett said she during the ceremony that she was “overwhelmed.”

“This is a magical place where you cute, little children can come read, discover and grow,” she told the kindergartners.

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