Surrounded by fifth and sixth graders at a crowded Thomas Mifflin School science-lab table, Connor Barwin surgically arranged three succulent plants in a small flower pot on Monday afternoon.
Barwin was at the East Falls school through a team partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS).
It came on an off day between his team’s epic Thanksgiving win over the Dallas Cowboys and its looming showdown with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
And the winner was…
The engagement had him looking through several dozen Junior Flower Show “blue ribbon finalists” to determine which would be entered in the 2015 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs from Feb. 28 to March 8.
“I think we have the winner,” said Barwin after checking out several tables covered with entries before reaching sixth grader Treasur Lee’s movie-themed, glued-seed creation on construction paper. “She was the winner, but you all did a wonderful job.”
For her part, Lee was ecstatic.
“It’s amazing. It feels great!” the self-described “hardcore Eagles fan” exclaimed after posing for photos with Barwin, who gave her a No. 98 jersey, team mascot Swoop and PHS president Drew Becker.
Lee was not alone in her excitement as droves of students (and some teachers) made sure to get photos taken with, and Eagles hats autographed by, Barwin during his hour-long stop at the Conrad Street school.
Sustainability as a message
Urged by Swoop to add his autograph to the science-lab’s white board, Barwin initially signed his name and number with a “Go Birds” line. A couple moments later, he decided to add a “Plant Trees +” introduction to his message, which was placed under a “Do Not Erase” order.
After fielding a question about the last and next games on the Eagles schedule — Barwin offered a stock “Thursday was great and the next game is even more important” response — NewsWorks asked about the roots of a sustainability bend that has him touting the benefits of public transportation and riding a bicycle to work.
He said it started while growing up in the Detroit area where his mother had Barwin and his brothers help with gardening fruits and vegetables.
“It all just came together from that. The [endorsements] with SEPTA or NRG just make sense for me,” he said. “PHS involving kids in this is a great thing, and it’s always great for me to get a chance to go out and work with kids. It’s a great day off but, tomorrow, it’ll be time to focus on Seattle.”