Harvest Park pumpkin patch | November 4, 2022 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - November 4, 2022

Harvest Park pumpkin patch

Middle schoolers grow annual autumn event for younger kids

by Christian Trujano

Hundreds of Alisal and Walnut Grove Elementary students filled the garden at Harvest Park Middle School with laughter and excitement during the fifth annual Harvest Park Pumpkin Patch last week.

The elementary schoolers were able to break off into small groups and participate in the various activities on Oct. 27, such as a ring and bean bag toss, spider hunt, faux tattoo parlor, maze, a fishing for fun station and live chicken viewing.

Once each student finished every activity, they were handed a pumpkin that they decorated and were allowed to bring home.

Greg Dankwardt, a leadership and garden teacher at Harvest Park who has been putting the event together since its inception, said they usually see over 450 kids in the two days that they host the pumpkin patch.

"I have a garden class that puts this on along with my leadership class," Dankwardt said. "So all the students volunteer here, and they come up with the stations, and they run them. It's a good time."

Dankwardt said that while one of his favorite parts of the event is constructing the maze portion of the patch, what he really enjoys watching is his middle schoolers interacting with the younger kids.

He said that because his students basically run the show on their own, it teaches them valuable leadership and responsibility skills all while putting together a good time for the little ones.

"I think it gives them some buy-in on their community and how important it is to give back," Dankwardt said. "It's not about my middle schoolers today. It's about the kindergarteners and first graders and for them to realize that, you know, some things are bigger than them and being able to put a smile on someone else's face is important."

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