A local elementary school has opened an outdoor learning space.
Rossland Summit School (RSS) officially opened its new outdoor classroom on Friday morning. The space is filled with large rocks and wood stumps for sitting and climbing on, and there are also a variety of plants so that the kids can learn about them.
Caley Mulholland came up with the idea for the outdoor classroom and approached the RSS Parent Advisory Council (PAC) about working together to create the space. Though her two children, two months and three years old, are still too young for school, she hopes that by the time they start attending RSS, the classroom will have fully blossomed.
“My idea with the outdoor classroom was that by the time they’re school aged, these plants will be starting to get bigger and there’ll be more shade,” she said.
A number of community partners helped with the project. Power Pig Excavating Services helped with the hardscaping by providing excavation. ATCO Wood Products provided wood chips to help beautify the space and volunteers came out to help with the work and the planting. Trees Canada, Staples Advantage, Columbia Basin Trust, Nelson & District Credit Union, KIA Castlegar, Jeff Hussey and family, Rossland Youth Action Network, Yodel and Sierra Landscaping are also community partners.
During the opening, Mulholland asked the kids what else they’d like to see in the classroom, as it’s meant to be an evolving space. Kids asked for a flower bed and were interested in attracting different animals to the space. Mulholland also asked them to act as stewards for the outdoor classroom.
“I want to see the kids be the caretakers of this space — so pick up their garbage, protect the plants, make sure that they grow tall and strong, and to keep adding to it,” she said. “We have a huge opportunity as humans to work with nature to restore ecosystems and the more kids learn about ecosystems at a young age, the better they’ll be able to solve any ecological problems that we have. To do that kids need to be outside and making their own discoveries in nature.”