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Flower power: Class learns what it takes to become successful florists

By September 14, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

Where else but in an art class taught by an ag teacher would you see high school students producing floral arrangements ranging from boutonnieres and corsages to holiday centerpieces?

ThatÕs whatÕs going on in Amy SchulteÕs fifth-period floral design class at Davis High School, where some 30 students Ñ including a smattering of boys Ñ could be found last week working with chrysanthemums and carnations, babyÕs breath and ferns, creating floral masterpieces.

Later in the school year, theyÕll learn how to make virtually all of the arrangements and bouquets needed for a wedding, do the same for a quincea–era, and fulfill orders for a floral-arrangement-of-the-month service open to the public.

Schulte, a nine-year veteran of the DHS agriculture department, has one goal in mind:

ÒI want them to leave here with enough skills to have a freelance floral business in college, so they can pay their bills,Ó she said. ÒIt will be a great way for them to make a viable income.Ó

TheyÕll get a taste of the business side of floral design right off the bat.

The class is currently taking orders for a monthly subscription program, which promises nine monthly arrangements, many with holiday themes, including a cornucopia of flowers in November, and a centerpiece with candles in December. The subscription costs $200 and runs from October through May. View examples of the arrangements on SchulteÕs website http://www.davisffa.com/subpage4.html.

The $200 fee covers enough supplies for each student to make two arrangements Ñ a ÒpracticeÓ arrangement theyÕll take home, and a second one for a customer.

So far, Schulte said, Òabout a half a dozen orders have come in.Ó

The goal is 30, she added, Òbut if we end up with a few more than that, we can handle it. There are students who can do more.Ó

Customers also can pay $25 per month for just the specific months they want floral arrangements.

Schulte is quick to note that her class has no intention of taking business away from local florists. Strelitzia, in particular, has been a great partner to the class, she said, even offering internships to students. In fact, two students in the class are now working for Strelitzia, Schulte added.

This is the first time Schulte has taught floral design, and sheÕs having a ball.

She graduated from the San Francisco School of Floral Design over the summer and said the subject Òhas become a passion of mine.Ó

Schulte is no stranger to the world of agriculture, though. This daughter of an ag teacher grew up on a 20-acre ranch in Esparto and was involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America for much of her life, even raising a flock of sheep.

Clearly well-liked by her students Ñ who are quick to tease her about her short stature Ñ Schulte was walking her class through the details of making boutonnieres and corsages last week.

She explained how to choose the flowers from a collection of purple chrysanthemums and red and white carnations, where to cut them and how to arrange, wire and tape the pieces.

ÒItÕs hard to believe how much work goes into these,Ó noted one student as she worked.

The usual upcoming high school dances and proms will offer yet another business opportunity Ñ SchulteÕs students will sell one corsage and one boutonniere each to classmates, with the $20 earned for each returning to the classroom to cover supplies.

As they left class last week, some of the girls proudly wore their corsages out, one saying, ÒIÕm never throwing this away.Ó

ÒDonÕt you want to wear yours?Ó Schulte asked one of the boys.

ÒUh É no,Ó he replied, ÒIÕll find someone to give it to.Ó

Schulte said by the end of the school year, each of these students will possess all of the skills and knowledge needed to pull off a full wedding. They will master everything from customer relations and consultations to pricing. In addition to all of the practical work, students also will spend the school year studying the history of art in floral design, with visits to the DeYoung Museum and the San Francisco Flower Market in their futures as well.

For more information about the studentsÕ floral service and the subscription program, contact Schulte at [email protected]

Ñ Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at (530) 747-8051 or [email protected] Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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