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History in full flower for local first-graders

Boulder City’s long-standing history with the hollyhock flower was recently honored at Andrew J. Mitchell Elementary School.

On May 11, Cheryl Waites, as part of the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum 31ers educational outreach, shared the history of the flower with first-graders and helped them grow their own to take home.

“I really enjoy being able to connect with the kids,” said Waites. “They learn about history and gardening at the same time, and I love it.”

The 31ers Educational Outreach Program helps students learn about the families that came to work on the Hoover Dam during the Great Depression and settled in what is currently Boulder City.

The hollyhock has been part of Boulder City since the 1930s. Grandma Pickett brought it to Boulder City when she and her family moved to town in 1932 because of the dam. In 2012, the City Council approved a resolution making the heirloom hollyhock the city’s official flower.

The presentation at Mitchell has been going on for about 10 years and traditionally occurs the Friday before Mother’s Day.

“There are two parts of the hollyhock presentation that I think are particularly important,” said Benjamin Day, principal of Mitchell. “First, it’s good for the students to learn about their community, and the hollyhock presentation allows the students to learn something unique about their community that they might not otherwise learn. Secondly, I think it’s important for the students to recognize their mothers on Mother’s Day, and as part of the hollyhock presentation, the students take a hollyhock plant home to their mothers.

“I really believe it’s important for our students to learn to show gratitude for what they have, and for the majority of our students, nobody gives more to them than their mothers.”

Waites said that when Pickett came to Boulder City from Arkansas, she brought all her seeds and plants with her.

“She brought who she was with her to Boulder City. … It was hot and windy, and here she came in her wagon with her hollyhocks,” said Waites, who dressed as Pickett for the presentation.

Waites said Pickett used leftover dishwater to help the plants grow as well as manure from another family’s mule, coffee grounds and eggshells to make her own plant food.

“The hollyhocks in Boulder City today came from Grandma Pickett,” she said.

After sharing the history of the flower, Waites helped each first-grader plant a hollyhock to take home.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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