The Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Uptown New Orleans has an extensive playground in back. On the corner of Chestnut and Octavia Streets, the students have planted glorious sunflowers that, while not yet blossoming, are sure to add color and grandeur to the neighborhood.
Where Chestnut Street crosses Octavia Street, in a residential neighborhood known for its quiet and shade, there are 15 raised garden beds in the corner of the playground behind the Benjamin Franklin School. These plots are far removed from the playground equipment. No errant ball or hide-and-seeker will damage the soil contained by 2x6 planks staked on end. These plots are meant for sunflowers and sunflowers only.
On June 13, the sunflowers haven't yet blossomed. The leafy stems are four feet high, with leaves the size of baby elephants' ears spread out to catch the sun's rays and promote photosynthesis. In another month, heavy golden sunflower heads will be bending the stems, pregnant with seeds, tempting the birds and distracting passers by with their beauty.
Out of a tiny seed, a gorgeous flower will grow. There is a lesson here, one that probably wasn't lost on the elementary school students who planted these seeds before school let out. When they return for a new year of study, they will see the mature sunflowers and reflect and that what was once no more than a kernel in their tiny hands has become a thing of glory and inspiration. All it took was the patience to put the seed into dirt to put down roots. There are other lessons to learn at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, but this is a lesson that cannot be wasted.
There is a mural painted on the back of the school. It's motto is this: "BF. Beyond Expectations." Who knows how tall those sunflowers will grow. Certainly, the students at BF will grow taller, exceeding expectations.