By Kathryn Passeretti
Last Spring, Wyatt Grimes, now a Senior at Marysville High School, had a dream. He would surprise his girlfriend, Hailee, with sunflowers. Only, he wouldn’t buy them; he would grow them as a background for her senior pictures. And he wouldn’t grow a few. He would grow a field.
Wyatt had another dream. He wanted to expand the field to include pumpkins. He would grow them for elementary students with learning challenges. Wyatt admits that school has not come easy for him. “I work hard for every grade,” he said. Wyatt made arrangement for the Special Education classrooms at Garfield Elementary School to receive the Fall pumpkins.
Wyatt borrowed his father’s tractor and got to work. He spent April plowing and rototilling an acre behind his family’s home. Michigan temperatures fell into the low thirties and rained a lot, but Wyatt stayed committed. It gave him a thrilling feeling to create something special instead of buying it.
On May 1st, Wyatt planted the sunflower seeds by scattering them over most of the field. Two weeks later, he got on his knees to shape the dirt mounds pumpkin seeds are planted in. Wyatt planted six seeds per mound, covering an area of 30 x 30 feet.
A dream is never easy. The rain stopped. Wyatt had to collect stream water in 55-gallon barrels to water his plants. He did this twice a week until the sunflowers stood a foot tall. And because Wyatt wanted his pumpkins to have a nice shape, he rolled them gently on the vine each week.
By the end of August, the field of sunflowers Wyatt grew for Hailee, was flourishing. What was her reaction? Wyatt said, “she’s not the kind to express her feelings with words. She just smiles and says, “thank you.”
When the students at Garfield Elementary School saw the pumpkins, they couldn’t contain their joy! There was talk of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating. The students learned that a high school student named Wyatt had grown the pumpkins for them. The older students were told the story and shown pictures of the process. They would be applying it to a narrative writing assignment.
The fourth and fifth graders in the Rosenbush/Cole classroom were both moved and inspired. “Wyatt did all of that for us? He cared and didn’t know me.” Some of the boys chanted, “I’m going to drive a tractor like Wyatt!” But it was the girls who gave voice to Hailee’s smile. “He grew a field of sunflowers for his girlfriend!” They jumped out of their seats and danced around the classroom. “He’s so romantic,” they said, twirling and putting their hands to their face. “It’s like a princess story,” one sighed. “And princess stories have pumpkins, so were in it – sort of!”
There is a quote in the movie, A Field of Dreams. “If you build it, he will come.” Wyatt grew a field of sunflowers for his girlfriend’s senior pictures. And others from the graduating Class of 2019 came. They stood in the field capturing a moment in time before following their dreams. A pregnant woman heard about the field. She came to have maternity pictures taken in the sunflowers…… and to dream for her unborn baby.
Wyatt is currently in the process of applying to colleges to study engineering.
Kathryn Passeretti earned her Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. She came to the Blue Water area from the Chicagoland area nearly two decades ago and loves it here! Kathryn works with children throughout the Port Huron school district as a substitute teacher and enjoys volunteer work. She values the people here – of all ages, who continue to touch her life. And prizes the lakes and rivers available to all of us at our fingertips.