Buckets full of fresh flowers and dozens of rolls of brightly colored ribbon greet students in the Floral Design classroom at Shafter High School and the creativity is flowing even before the bell rings. As you watch the students get to work on their arrangements, the activity closely resembles that of a fully functioning flower shop, with all aspects of floral design, packaging and presentation taking place.
Elizabeth Bledsoe helping a student
For an hour each day, Elizabeth Bledsoe's Floral Design classes learn principals and elements of the craft including colors, lines, textures, scale, and proportion. The students receive an art credit, a dual enrollment credit from Bakersfield College, and Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities under this innovative Agriculture Department program offered at Shafter High School.
Shiayne Garza is a junior who says this is definitely a class she will take next year. "I like trying different things and this is a learning experience for sure! I really enjoy making arrangements," says Garza.
Some of the projects these students are working to complete include creating centerpieces for various Kern High School District or school site functions like Principal Partners' Day, graduation, banquets and other on-campus recognition ceremonies or formal dances.
"I like doing crafts. Ms. Bledsoe is really nice and she explains everything so well," said Crystal Ramirez, a freshman who was busy preparing beautiful yellow roses for an upcoming senior night event.
Students have also worked on small weddings and special event flowers for the community giving students experience with profit and loss, planning, ordering, and the long hours florists typically work on holidays and weekends!
Ms. Bledsoe is quick to point out that while her students are getting an exciting opportunity to learn skills and economic strategy, the class is by no means trying to compete with local businesses, but to expose students to a career in horticulture, agriculture, or art while reinforcing "soft skills" which include following directions, developing initiative, collaboration, and problem solving. When the students complete this class, they will have a cover letter, resume, and professional portfolio of their designs.
"We are very proud of our Ag Program and it has been amazing to watch it literally double in size within the last year," said Principal Russell Shipley. "The Floral Design class has quickly become one of the most popular CTE options, and we are very proud of the hard work and determination both Ms. Bledsoe and her students put in each and every day."
Ms. Bledsoe has been teaching the Floral Design Class at Shafter High School for two years, and previously taught at North High School. She brings years of experience working in industry for Pyramid Cut Flowers before coming to the Kern High School District. She also holds a degree in Horticulture with a specialty in Flower Production from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.