Homeschooling Student Showcase: Clark Jones Plants the Seeds of New Life With Gardening and PrayerFeb 25th, 2012 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Student Showcase
Homeschooling volunteers helped Clark build the prayer garden
When Clark Jones has an idea, he doesn’t just run with it. He plants it, helps it to sprout, and lovingly aids its growth and maturation through an admirable knack for organization and outreach to others. When Clark began looking for an Eagle Scout project, an idea was soon born – one that combined both the power of prayer and the tranquility of nature.
“One Sunday, I passed by our chapel’s center courtyard. I looked at it through the glass doors, thinking how dreary it seemed that day. But I also realized that this was prime real estate going to waste. You could see the chapel’s belfry from the courtyard, and the open sky. Why not turn this into a prayer garden?”
Chaplain Campbell, of Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., had mentioned to Clark how much folks had enjoyed a prayer garden at one of his old churches, and that he felt their own chapel needed some “new life.” Clark took the information right to heart, and the intensive planning process for the Eagle Scout project was soon underway. Luckily, he had the solid foundation of a homeschool education, and tons of support from his family, friends, community, and church.
Born into a military family, Clark was transitioned into homeschooling in the 2nd grade, along with his twin brother Blake. After being stationed at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C., the Jones family realized that schooling options for their children were fairly limited. The public schools in the area had a reputation of being dangerous and received poor academic ratings. And the cost of private school in Washington was astronomical, not to mention the tediously long bus ride. With a large homeschooling community already in existence on base, the Jones family decided to take the plunge.
Previous to their move, the Jones children had been attending a private Christian academy in Rembert, South Carolina. Clark remembers a class size of about twenty students where individual attention was not always available. “The kids who got in trouble, or had the worst grades got most of the attention,” he noted. “But the teachers were great and really tried to help me understand things when they could.”
Clark loves the individual planning involved with homeschooling. “Especially with Bridgeway – if I don’t understand something, I can go watch a lecture again in an instant. And there isn’t one teacher corralling thirty kids in a room,” he adds. With homeschooling, a parent has a very special insight into their own child’s learning speed and abilities.
Although some critics will say that homeschooled children have less social or sports opportunities, Clark has found this sentiment just isn’t so. “I am truly blessed to be part of such a large, talented homeschooling group here (the Bolling Area Home Educators). There have been so many fantastic opportunities offered to me: a play group, a cross-country team, fencing lessons taught by Hungarian world champions, Tae Kwon Do lessons by an Olympic gold medalist, art classes, a bowling league, parties, and a great teen group. I don’t think there is anything I don’t like about homeschooling.”
Clark’s super-positive attitude about learning, life, and faith propelled him right through the rigorous process of orchestrating and completing his Eagle Scout project. Once approvals from the Base, the Chapel, and Civil Engineering were received, he jumped right into the fund-raising process necessary to raise money for the project. And how did he manage to reach out to so many people in a short amount of time? Social media: Clark decided to build a Facebook page to chronicle his journey and ask for support.
“Creating the Facebook page” definitely facilitated reaching more people. That page was responsible for about 75% of the monetary donations I received. Social media can help you reach people you normally wouldn’t. Bands, organizations, and other charities can reach a whole new wealth of people in this manner. In the end, I had 43 people following my page, and nearly all of them ended up making a donation.
Once the funds were raised – $1000 in total – urban planters, which could be placed on top of concrete, were purchased as well as whisky barrels to plant trees in. Clark conducted thorough research to determine what hardy plants could survive outdoors with little maintenance. Soil, peat moss, perlite, wood and hardware were also purchased for the project. On Saturday, November 14th 2011, over 20 volunteers helped Clark build the prayer garden, which culminated in 2 benches, 4 planters, and 4 whiskey barrels all filled with plants and trees, and a birdbath in the middle of it all. Clark said he is very proud of the outcome, and humbled by all the people who took time and money out of their own lives to support the prayer garden effort.
When asked about his future, Clark says he is considering a career in the Air Force, or perhaps even in the music field through the University of Georgia. What is clear is that given Clark’s amazing talent for coordinating and motivating people to work jointly together, his future is wide open to many exciting possibilities.
“My relationship with God has helped me with all things in life. And in all things, I want to follow God’s plan for me as well.” And with that sentiment in mind, the path Clark Jones might find himself on in the future will surely be bright!