Skyview Elementary hosts grand opening of outdoor classroom
April 25, 2017
Skyview Elementary students, parents, teachers and volunteers crowded together Friday to celebrate the grand opening of their outdoor classroom.
The cold weather did not halt the excitement of those who helped make the community outdoor classroom a reality.
Skyview teacher Kendra Jacoby set out to create the classroom when she felt technology had too much of a hold on her students and felt exploring the outdoors could inspire a new way of learning.
Jacoby's inspiration for the classroom came when her Roots and Shoots environmental learning program noticed their dying wetlands area and started brainstorming what to do with it.
“It gives students an open space to be as loud as they want to and to learn as deep as they want to.” Emily BradleyFifth grade teacher
Nearly five years later with the help of grants, donations, volunteers and dedication, the classroom opened.
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Construction began in June after Jacoby applied for and received a $60,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.
Jacoby then got in touch with landscape architect, Jennifer Gardner.
"I met with the group and when they asked me if I wanted to be a part of the project I was like, 'yes please!' " Gardner said.
She listened to what they wanted to include in the classroom and left most of the design up to the students and teachers.
The outdoor space includes a music area, two bat houses, a science lab, an art area, a pollinator garden, a native plant finder and a digging zone. The space is tied together through paths, benches and study spaces.
"Now anything they could do inside they can do outside," Gardner said.
Susannah Vargas has two children at Skyview, one in third grade and one in fifth grade. Vargas's son has special needs, and she said she thinks the outdoor classroom offers a new learning environment for all.
"I like how it encourages different ways to learn," Vargas said.
Teachers also expressed their enthusiasm for the classroom.
"It gives students an open space to be as loud as they want to and to learn as deep as they want to," fifth grade teacher Emily Bradley said. "It offers more freedom than a classroom can provide."
Students started making use of the outdoor classroom since the beginning of the school year and it is popular among both students and teachers.
"When the weather is nice out we fight over time slots," Bradley said.
Once a quarter students participate in Take Me Outside Day in which each class must spend at least one hour of class time outside. This could be during a math or science or art class.
During the grand opening ceremony, Skyview principal Tammy Seib told a story about a falcon, Skyview's school mascot, flying above the project.
"It felt like he was giving us his blessing or thanking us," Seib said. "I think it was a sign to persevere and never give up."