By ROB OATLEY Although the new classroom at St. Peter School doesn't have walls, a roof or windows, students and teachers alike think it will be one of the most popular places to learn. On Wednesday, September 4th the school will unveil the new Sister
Although the new classroom at St. Peter School doesn’t have walls, a roof or windows, students and teachers alike think it will be one of the most popular places to learn.
On Wednesday, September 4th the school will unveil the new Sister Mary Angelus Outdoor Classroom at 10:45 a.m. This new classroom will be a way for students to explore nature, analyze plants or insects, and allow students to be a little “creative” says Principal Joan Sickinger. “I think anything new and creative sparks the imagination and the will to learn.” Before classes start, Father Roger Gagné will bless the area.
The outdoor classroom is located near the church rectory and has been in development since May 2019. First grade teacher Anne Robinson and the father of two currently attending students, Jon Alvarez, have spearheaded the project and together made this new education area possible. Alvarez says that he was inspired for the classroom by his kids, “Robert is in pre-school four, and Magdalena is in 4th grade,” and thought that the school could benefit from having a cool area for students to learn in. Alvarez said, “The school gets really hot at the beginning and end of the school year, and without good air conditioning, the school suffers from the heat.” The outdoor classroom may just provide some relief in addition to inspiration for inquiring minds.
What started as a Kickstarter program in May of this year, soon turned into a GoFundMe as the goal surpassed its original intent of $3,500, and turned into $5,100. The money was used to purchase a one-of-a-kind transparent weatherproof white-board, various picnic tables, an outdoor mailbox to house items such as a first aid kid, or dry erase markers, and an assortment of outdoor chairs.
“The money also went to supplement items for each curriculum. Rechargeable microscopes, and field guides for example, so that when the kids go down to Salter’s Grove they can learn as much as possible” remarks Alvarez. “Any additional funds that go towards the GoFundMe will be used to improve the preschool area.”
Robinson said the funds also enabled the purchase of, “Magnifying glasses, and books that pertain to each age group.”
The school dedicated the classroom to their former beloved Principal, Sister Mary Angelus. Robinson explains, “She was here for a while, so the students dedicated it to her. She used to live in the cottage next to the school. She’s 93 and just moved to a nursing home last year, so she is very missed.”
“The goal of the project is to do some outdoor explorations, and science lessons” explains Sickinger. The classroom will be accessible year-round, and will bring forth new activities for students to learn and engage in. Robinson recommends to “dress for the weather” and that, “There’s a certain degree that we don’t go outside, but for a good 15-minute recess, or a 15-minute adventure to find tracks in the snow, it will be fun.”
It seems that no matter what the weather is like in New England, the students at St. Peter will always find a way to be proactive in their pursuit of education.