Mariela Maya

Photo by Tony Kukulich 

Mariela Maya poses in front of the sunflowers she's been growing since May at her home in Brentwood, Calif., Monday, July 20, 2020.

Mariela Maya began a school project in March that is still growing strong.

The 6-year-old Brentwood first-grader received a packet of seeds as part of her distance learning education from her kindergarten teacher, Julie Davies, at Loma Vista Elementary. Mariela said she took the seeds home and began the project immediately.

“We put the seeds in a cup, and we germinated them,” Mariela said. “We put soil and water in it, then put it in the sun. That was inside. When they sprouted, we put them in the ground, and they were about two inches high.”

The project became a family affair – with Mariela’s father helping her start the seeds, her grandfather digging a hole for her to plant the sprouts and her aunt taking her outside to water them each afternoon.

“I like gardening,” Mariela said. “I like watching the plants grow. I didn’t know they were going to get this tall. This job has taught me patience.”

Elizabeth Maya, Mariela’s aunt, said the plants have grown over 12 feet high and appear ready to bloom.

“We see changes in the plants every day,” Maya said. “We were pretty shocked at the fast progression. We weren’t expecting them to reach these heights and it’s been exciting to see.”

Davies said she has her students plant seeds each spring as part of a unit on plants. When shelter-in-place restrictions prevented her from seeing her students in the classroom, she packaged up starter kits and sent them home with the weekly work packets.

“Mariela was one of the students who absolutely loved the project, and any school activity she did, she put in 100%,” said Davies. “I loved how excited she was about her sunflower. I’m hoping seeing the flower will remind her of time in my class, and how special it was.”