Teacher Greg Kaster and Landscape Ontario representative Don Prosser at the Oct. 6 opening ceremony for W-O's new outdoor learning area.
Photos by Brianna Brookshaw and Peter Gale
Waterloo-Oxford students have a new place to learn, thanks to a new outdoor classroom space worth over $30,000.
The outdoor classroom was completed Oct. 5 and includes benches for students and a projector space for teachers to show lessons. Teachers can bring their classes outside to this new learning environment.
Principal Ed Doadt and Landscape Ontario representative Don Prosser at the Oct. 6 opening ceremony for W-O's new outdoor learning area.
Outdoor learning spaces are growing more popular at schools as teachers look to bring nature to their students.
“A classroom doesn’t have to be four walls and desks. Learning can be taking place anywhere and this is just another place to do that,” said Tracey Kelly, a Waterloo Region District School Board learning services consultant who attended the project’s opening ceremony last week.
The local chapter of Landscape Ontario donated supplies and labour for the project. Over 15 different landscaping companies pitched in to install paving stones and plant flowers. Students built a wooden framework roof that will be covered in climbing vines within two years.
Landscape Ontario donates a community project like this each year, said Don Prosser, the landscape designer who worked on the classoom. W-O’s ideas were chosen from 12 applicants because the school’s strong horticulture learning program meant the space would be well maintained.
“You can learn in the landscape and you can learn from the landscape,” Prosser said.
The Baden high school now has one of the only outdoor classrooms in Waterloo Region, Kelly said. More schools may want one, but can’t afford to build without donations.
At W-O, sometimes moving outside was just the most practical thing to do, said teacher Greg Kaster. Temperature in the school’s portable classrooms gets too high on hot days, and moving to the outdoor learning space will provide some relief.
The area includes a new stone-paved path and flower beds, and transforms a corner of the school property that used to be an eyesore, he added. Kaster said he is “110 per cent happy with it. It’s far exceeded anything I’d imagined we’d have.”
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