Tharptown receives funding for outdoor classroom

By Staff
Melissa Dozier-Cason FCT Staff Writer
Tharptown Elementary School has been awarded a grant to fund their new C.R.I.C.K.E.T., or Creating Responsible Individuals and Cultivating Knowledge of Environmental Teamwork, program.
Legacy, a conservation and preservation education organization, awarded the school $2500 to start the C.R.I.C.K.E.T. program, Stacey Little, Legacy official, said.
The school will develop an outdoor classroom setting so that students can learn first hand about things like how plants grow and life cycles of insects, Melissa Cox, teacher and grantee for the program, said.
"I wanted an area where students learning about how plants grow can plant a garden and learn first hand," Cox said
One portion of the outdoor classroom area will house a butterfly garden, which will be formed by installing plants that attract them, and that provide a nurturing environment, Cox said.
"I love being outside. I would have my kids outside everyday if I could. I think they [the students] will pay more attention and participate more once we get out in the hands on atmosphere," Cox said.
While the mini grant from Legacy is a good starting place for the program, they will be applying for more grants in the soon to help further fund the project. She will be applying for a grant sponsored by Lowe's, International Paper and National Geographic Explorer, as well as the Toyota Tapestry Grants for Science Teachers, Cox said.
"We have a good start with the Legacy grant but $2500 will only start the project. We need more money to really develop the project," Cox said.
The mini grant stipulates that the money has to be used during the 2007 fiscal year, and plans are being made to begin the outdoor classroom area by spring. With construction of the new high school and gym, the exact location of C.R.I.C.K.E.T. is not yet known, Cox said.
"Ms. Cox received the funding to start the program a little sooner than we expected so we are not exactly sure where the area will be." David Hogan, principal, Tharptown Elementary, said.
The outdoor classroom will be accessible to all grades for educational purposes for any subject as well as the community. The hope is to generate a positive atmosphere where students and the community can learn by doing, Cox said.
The mini grants are designed to show a joint effort between the community and organizations receiving the grant to educate citizens about environmental issues. Applicants are competitively judged and can be awarded up to $2500, Little said.
Legacy, who has provided more than $2 million in grants, scholarships, and sponsorships since it's formation in 1992, received 35 applications in the mini grant category, and only 15 mini grants were awarded, Little said.

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