Greenhouses rebuilt at George County High in effort led by teacher, students

George County High School celebrated the reopening of its greenhouses two years after Hurricane Zeta destroyed the old structures.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 7:33 PM CDT
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LUCEDALE, Miss. (WLOX) - George County High School is celebrating the reopening of its greenhouses two years after Hurricane Zeta destroyed the old structures.

Rebuilding was a major undertaking only made possible thanks to students and one dedicated teacher.

“It was total devastation,” said horticulture instructor Rick McMullan. “They were laying flat on the ground.”

McMullan stands inside one of the biggest accomplishments of his life: three brand new, state-of-the-art greenhouses at George County High School.

“Everything under our feet all the way to the top is new,” he said. “This facility should service this community for the next 30 to 40 years.”

One of the things that makes the greenhouses special is not only were they built for the students, but they were built by them -- everything from the welding on the rafters to wooden signs hanging above.

“Every bolt, every screw, clamp -- everything in here -- welds, everything was done by students,” said McMullan.

“I got to help with all these posts, putting them in the ground, putting concrete around them,” said sophomore Jacob Fortner. “I loved it. I’m real hands-on and I enjoyed it. I had a good time last year.”

Fortner and Noah Gibbs, a junior at George County High, are just two of the many students who spent the last two years bringing the marvel of horticulture to life.

“[McMullan’s] my favorite teacher,” said Gibbs. “Can’t say it any other way...All I would do is build or pot plants. I never really learned all the specifics of it. He’s taught me from then up, and I’ve came a long way.”

“I think the world of [McMullan],” said Fortner. “I think he’s a good man.”

McMullan credits his father, the high school’s former principal, for pushing him to head up the horticulture program 20 years ago.

“He thought education was a calling, like the ministry, and he was one of the smartest people I ever knew,” said McMullan. “He taught me so many lessons...I miss him every day. He was my inspiration.”

Beyond teaching students the ins-and-outs of horticulture, the greenhouses are a functioning business. All the profits will fund student activities.

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