Blair Community Schools (BCS) students will soon have more opportunities for outdoor learning.
The Blair Kids Academy, BCS' before- and after-school program, recently was awarded a grant for $13,307 to build an outdoor classroom at Deerfield Primary School.
The grant is from Beyond School Bells, an organization that offers enrichment and training for after-school programs. This year, they also offered a grant.
“One of the options was for a grant to build an outdoor classroom,” BKA Director Dusk Junker said. “That really appealed to me. First of all, with COVID, we've been outside more. The classrooms have been outside more.”
In addition to BKA, Junker is hopeful teachers would use the space during the school year.
“It seemed like the perfect thing to add for Blair,” she said.
The outdoor classroom will include a 20-foot-by-30-foot concrete slab, u-shaped wall for seating and two picnic tables. The grant also includes the purchase of curriculum. Junker said BKA plans to focus on insects and plants.
“Once everything has been approved by the school board, then we can go ahead and order all of these supplies like bug catchers and we can buy seeds and all the materials in order to teach the kids how to plant things,” she said. “That's what we're really excited about.
BKA submitted a proposal to Supt. Randy Gilson. However, the BCS Board of Education would like to see a few changes, including location, landscaping and accessibility before the project moves forward.
Junker said BKA has had curriculum with plants before.
“This just gives a permanent space for it,” Junker said. “Sometimes we're on the sidewalk and we might be in somebody's way when we're doing things.”
In the future, Junker said she hopes to raise funds or get another grant to add a cover to the space for shade.