Outdoor classroom opens at St. Patrick School

By Staff
GREEN THUMB St. Patrick School students, from left, Sara Beth Courtney and Brittany Grissett, work in the garden to prepare for the opening of the school's outdoor classroom and youth garden while students in the background learn about the environment. Photo by Kelly Quackenbush/The Meridian Star
By Kelly Quackenbush/The Meridian Star
April 19, 2001
St. Patrick School will open a Scientific Outdoor Studies classroom, in conjunction with the St. Patrick Youth Garden, Monday at 8:10 a.m.
The classroom is positioned outside next to the playground with picnic tables and a surrounding garden area. Classes will share the outdoor classroom equally.
Teachers attended a workshop sponsored by Project Learning Tree, a program with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, to develop the classroom. The workshop focused on ways to create opportunities to incorporate environmental studies into all phases of the school curriculum.
Enrichment students have taken care of the gardening area, making sure it was ready for seedlings planted by each grade. Each grade has been assigned a specific area in the flower and vegetable garden beds. The students involved in the care of the garden must keep a garden journal.
Two Eagle Scouts, Russell Huntley and Travis Huntley, worked on their Eagle Scout projects by helping to organize volunteers and materials to build six picnic tables. They also cleared the fence line and prepared the garden beds.
The development of the classroom began last spring with seed money from the Keep America Beautiful Commission of Meridian/Lauderdale County Mini-grant Program for youth groups and was completed by local donations and volunteers.
Local organizations including the Knights of Columbus and the St. Patrick School 4H Club donated time and material to enhance the project. Many students and parents also played an active role in the completion of the outdoor classroom.
After the development of the classroom, a Youth Gardening Grant through the National Gardening Association was received by two staff members, Rosy Jones and Denise Huntley. The grant came in the form of tools, seeds and useful garden products from a variety of National Gardening Association businesses. This grant encourages student and community involvement at all stages of the gardening process.
The most recent grant to be applied for comes from Chevron. A Community Pride grant was also awarded to St. Patrick 4H Club for nurturing the garden environment by
providing homes for butterflies and hummingbirds. The 4H club has recently planted donated bulbs in the garden.
The Open House will celebrate the formal opening of the gardens and classroom. A reception will be held to honor all the people who donated their time and effort to build the outdoor classroom.
The public is invited to attend the opening.
Kelly Quackenbush is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at kquackenbush@themeridianstar.com.

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