From what I've seen black gravel looks great when in a tank with plants that are a lighter value of green while brown/lightbrown natural gravel looks good in a tank with darker value to medium value green plants. (contrast and whatnot.)
I would also suggest these: http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscent...ustralis01.htm
The growth and color change depending on the amount of light given giving the plant a personality of it's own.
Plants with personality compliment fish with personality and looks really nice compared to a tank with plants that just seem stuck there statically without any feeling.
Plus since you'll have a lot of light they'll probably hug the bottom of the tank making a nice looking foreground/carpet plant, depending on how much you want to prune.
I can't wait to see your progress. :)
You should start a thread with pictures from beginning to end!
It would be so much fun, and I'm sure everyone would like to see how things work out for your sorority.