Photos by Libby Wilson
Environmental Education and Environmental Science classes plan on making upgrades to the outdoor classroom, along with help from their teachers, the PTA landscape committee and the administration. Students hope to fix the the current pond, add benches and potentially create a rain garden.
In years past, the outdoor classroom, located on the north side of the lunchroom, has been an educational space for both high school students and grade school students. Grade schoolers visit the high school throughout the year to see the Environmental Education department’s animals.
“I came in elementary school, and it was awesome,” senior spokesperson for Environmental Education, Jenna Swan, said. “[It’s] just a grassy mess right now. It got really overgrown and not maintained for a long time.”
According to PTA landscape committee member Lori Stolberg, the current pond is dysfunctional. Reconfiguring it should be the first change made to the area. Contacts have been made with a representative of the KC Water Garden Society, who has offered to provide expertise in rebuilding the pond.
“It can’t be filled to the proper height because one side is kind of low, and if you really fill it up to where it needs to be, it’s going to overflow on one side,” Stolberg said.
The pond also needs a small waterfall added to it, which will prevent mosquitoes from being able to breed there.
The second project that needs to be completed, according to Environmental Education teacher James Lockard, is adding benches to the area. The benches will make the space more educational, because it will allow grade school students to have a place to sit when they visit the outdoor classroom throughout the year.
The money for the projects, like the pond rebuild and new benches, will come from the students working at the snack bar during football games and possibly the East Fund, but the rain garden has received money from a grant. In-depth plans for a rain garden have existed for about 10 years now, according to Lockard, and because of the discussions about improving the Outdoor Classroom in other ways, implementing the plans along with the others would make sense. Previous construction around other parts of East has prevented the rain garden plans from being carried out in the past.
“A rain garden is an area that catches the rain so it doesn’t overload the storm sewers, so you don’t have flooding,” Lockard said. “So if everyone had rain gardens, then we wouldn’t have to worry about flash flooding.”