YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollectionsFlowers

Art of floral arrangement taught at Calipatria High

January 31, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Bill Love takes one look at the flowers in his student's hand and immediately sees what's wrong with the arrangement.

"What do you think is wrong with it?" Love asks the student.

When the boy shrugs his shoulders, Love offers a suggestion.

"Too much yellow. A white carnation in the midst of all that yellow will really stand out," Love says as the student nods and leaves to recreate his project.

As Love teaches students in Calipatria High School's floral design class, the art of arrangement is really about rearrangement.

"I encourage them to experiment, to try different things," Love said while his students worked on making the perfect two-carnation bud vase during class last week.

"Some of the kids have a natural talent and that's what we try to foster," Love said.

Latisha Sauers, 18, is one of 12 students enrolled in the FFA class this semester.


"If I don't think something looks right, I'll ask someone else to see if I'm not just talking myself out of it," she said while pulling leaves off a flower's stem.

Latisha, who likes the hands-on experience she gets in the class, admits floral arranging isn't always easy.

"Sometimes it can be very frustrating. Sometimes the flowers don't want to cooperate," Latisha said as she begins to place carnations and pieces of leatherleaf into a vase.

Taking a break from her own work, Latisha offers advice to a classmate.

"I think your baby's breath is overpowering your flowers," she tells him.

The class, the only one like it in an Imperial Valley high school, has a textbook, but Love prefers to limit lectures and spend more time in the classroom's adjoining science lab creating floral arrangements.

Using mostly live flowers, the three-year-old class teaches students what kind of flowers and arrangements are appropriate for different occasions and how to create those arrangements.

Principles of color, balance, symmetry and theme are discussed and practiced while students learn from their mistakes.

"I didn't really know much (about floral arrangements) before," said Viviana Fox, 16, of the class.

"(Love) teaches us different designs and different types of arrangements. It's really fun," she said.

At the end of every arrangement, students grade each other's anonymous work.

"I try to teach students to be critical about their work," Love said.

The fruits of student labor can be seen all over the school and community.

The club sells arrangements to earn money for the class and has provided fellow students with corsages and boutonnieres for school dances.

The group makes arrangements for every occasion. Recipients of the floral design class' work range from the school's homecoming queen and her court to couples on their wedding day. Teachers have even been known to swing by the classroom looking for resolutions to marital conflicts.

"We've saved a lot of marriages," Love laughs, recalling one unfortunate teacher who failed to notice his wife's new hairstyle and needed a quick way to make it up to her.

Unlike most other FFA classes, the floral design class isn't focused on agricultural production.

"This is one step beyond (the production stage)," Love said.

The class is also unique in that it is one of only 30 state-certified FFA classes in Southern California, Love said. That certification results in extra funding for the class, Love explained.

Love will submit a proposal in a month to obtain University of California credit for students in the class. He's also applied for a grant that would fund tissue culturing to grow genetically identical plants. That grant would accompany Love's goal of making the course self-sustaining.

By having its own greenhouse, students could grow their own flowers and learn more about the production side of their materials. Currently, the class buys its flowers from Lewman's Floral in Brawley.

"If we had a greenhouse we would have a science connection through the growth of the flowers," Love said.

For now, however, students are beginning their next project: the three-carnation bud vase. Taking apart the two-carnation creations, students get back to work.

Staff Writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles