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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Plants enliven Rector’s classroom

Sam Bai
Rector sits inside of his homemade jungle.

Weighed down by homework and late-night studying, students trudge into English teacher Erick Rector’s Room 705, only to be met with the equivalent of a ray of happiness: An array of plants placed on top of every table lead up to a jungle-like scenery decorating the back of the classroom. 

Alive with different types of greenery, from cacti to orchids, Rector’s classroom exudes a perfect vibe for discussing conversations between Socrates and Euthyphro to life questions such as whether anything in our world is real in his AP Language and English 9 classes.

“I think these plants offer students a better learning environment – they make the classroom more unique and having a plant at each table creates this sense of individuality,” senior Alana Liu said. 

“It’s more welcoming and friendly to walk into a classroom with plants,” junior Shawn Wong said.

As a child, Rector always hated indoor plants for the effort needed to take care of them. Thus, he kept his plants outside, where they could be watered by nature rather than annoyingly having to be done so manually.

His opinion of plants changed, however, when his friends gifted him a few during the beginning of the pandemic. Slowly, those plants started growing on him, and he started his collection of potted green friends.

“I got a plant. And then it grew. It continued to grow, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’” Rector said.

Rector cherishes the plants his friends give him the most. Early on in his gardening adventure, Rector found that  many of the plants gifted to him could easily propagate from a cutting, allowing him to quickly expand his plant collection. His discovery of the little effort needed to take care of plants reinvigorated his interest in them. He has since become addicted to plants, each of which he loves equally.  

Some of his students also enjoy the presence of the plants while working in class or during tutorial simply because of their aesthetic. 

“I prefer a classroom with plants,” freshman Robert Yu said. “They are just nice to look at. My favorite plant is the fern in the glass.”

A delicate asparagus fern sits on the edge of students’ table. Photo by Annie Liu

From soft ferns to spiky cacti, Rector continues to add to his plant collection in his classroom this year. Recently he even bought a CAT-ctus in a cat pot.

“The cat plant? That one was stupid,” Rector said. “ I got that at Trader Joe’s for five bucks. I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a cactus so it’s easier to take care of, but it’s [also] in a cat [container] that looks like my cat.’” 

Rector’s cactus inside its cat container. Photo by Sam Bai

Some of the other greens in his room consist of succulents, orchids, ferns and flowers. 

Students from past years have also left origami for Rector’s plant collection. They place origami birds, butterflies and flowers in plant pots and on Rector’s table.

“I didn’t expect him to like origami so much,” sophomore Eliza Lin said. “I was just bored so I folded some origami with the paper I bought during the pandemic, and then gave a bunch to him.”

An origami bird, butterfly and flowers, made by sophomore Eliza Lin, reside in Rector’s spider plant. Photo by Annie Liu

While the plants started out as a personal hobby to bring entertainment during quarantine, it has since become much more. Rector said the plants liven up the classroom, giving students energy and increasing student involvement in a class where participation is key. 

“I like to think the plants are calming, and that in turn helps students be calm and be more relaxed,” Rector said.

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