GUSTINE - A popular floral design course at Gustine High School has expanded this year to add an advanced section.

The advanced class offers the opportunity for students who have taken beginning floral to take their skills to a new level with increasingly complex projects, explained teacher Sarah Thommen.

The advanced curriculum was previously incorporated into the floral class at the high school, she explained. This year, advanced floral is a stand-alone class with a relatively small enrollment of 14 students, while both sections of beginning floral are full.

“In the beginning class, students learn all of the fundamentals...the basics from elements of design to identifying over 100 flowers. They learn the cost break-downs and how they can make a profit from that, and start with basic arrangements,” Thommen related. “Advanced students are able to apply all those skills. They do larger scale arrangements and come up with the designs, where the beginning students are given what to do and follow that.”

Floral design elements and principles incorporate texture, space and color combinations, she noted, with students able to interject their own artistic flair.

“It can be learned, but some students have a natural gift for it,” Thommen noted.

Floral students in beginning and advanced courses regularly put to practice what they learn, Thommen remarked, as they create arrangements for a variety of school activities and conduct a floral arrangement subscription program that starts with a five-bouquet package. Arrangements are delivered to the subscribers throughout the school year.

“They are all student made, and the kids are in charge of delivering it to their customers,” Thommen noted.

The experience instills responsibility, organizational skills and business experience.

“They know that when there is a task to get done they will get it done,” Thommen remarked. “There is a lot of buy-in from the kids to get orders done.

“They are at the point where a lot of them could just take care of the whole thing on their own,” she said. “That is nice to see.”

Proceeds come back to the floral program, which started about four years ago. Members of a floral club - open to any student, but primarily comprised of floral design students - decides how the funds will be spent.

A floral design team also takes part in competitions in the spring. The competitions involve tests on a variety of related topics, evaluation of arrangements and a design round in which students showcase their own skills.

For senior Alexis Barnett,  who completed beginning and advanced floral and is now a teacher’s assistant for the advanced course, floral design was an eye-opening experience.

“I didn’t realize there were different elements and so many things that go into it,” she said.

The course, she added, not only is enjoyable but instills time management and organizational skills.

“I love this class,” Barnett concluded.