Outdoor classroom taking shape

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016

An outdoor classroom for Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) is closer to being completed, thanks to both financial and physical help.

According to Prince Edward County High School Physical Education Teacher Janet Green, staff and students are “very excited” about closing in on their goal and appreciative of a grant from the Prince Edward Public School Endowment.

“With this support, we should be able to move ahead quickly,” Green said. “We have completed 85 percent of the main trail with the tremendous help of (Emily) Camden’s Horticulture class and last weekend’s adult volunteers.”

Volunteers worked at the site on a recent Saturday.

“The nature trail and butterfly garden are in the works. As for the classroom benches, Isaac Drummond, a soon-to-be Eagle Scout from Fuqua School, is building the outdoor classroom seating for his final project. Supervised by contracting specialist, Dennis Creran, Isaac is going to do a great job for our project,” Green said.

She said a team-building course has been laid out and plans to begin building are well underway.

“We are working on the signage, which will be wood burned and painted by the students,” Green said. “Our art teacher, (David) Hennessey, will work with students to design and paint the entryway sign. The project growth is so exciting to watch.”

Green said the experience of designing and building the outdoor classroom has been a project involving the schools and community.  She said her and Camden’s classes have been working on the trails.

“We have had advice and program development from Dr. Rena Koesler, chair of Longwood’s … department (of therapeutic recreation) as well as a visit and advice from Dan Jordan, High Bridge State Park Manager,” Green said.

She said a school committee has reported the project’s progress to Division Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson on a regular basis, and said Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University volunteers have “put in exceptional hours” of work to help.

“Our gratitude goes out to all our volunteers and those who have donated,” Green said.

She also said there is a wish list of a few more things to reach the 100 percent mark: financial support, with checks written out to Prince Edward Schools and marked “Outdoor Classroom;” four telephone poles; more volunteers for weekend work; and various tools.