Center Grove Elementary celebrates new outdoor classroom

By Nicole Davis

Teachers at Center Grove Elementary expressed an interest in taking students outside and give them an alternative classroom experience. The school PTO, with help from the community, made it happen. They celebrated the ribbon cutting for the school’s new outdoor classroom on May 20.

The classroom includes a pavilion complete with electricity so students can still use their computers outside, picnic tables, raised bed gardens and more.

“We’re all really excited about it,” said Sarah Schenk, PTO volunteer. “There’s so much merit to getting kids outside and free time in nature.”

At the ribbon cutting, the Center Grove Education Foundation presented the PTO with a $4,500 check for furniture for the pavilion. Dr. Krista Nelson, who will leave as Center Grove Elementary principal to move to a district-level position this year, was presented with a bench with funds collected from the student body. Then they took the opportunity to celebrate the end of the school year with bounce houses, food trucks, a DJ, airbrush tattoos and more.

From left, Center Grove Elementary Principal Dr. Krista Nelson, Beth Knapp, Amy Dickinson, Katie Bruner and Misty Spitler. Nelson was presented with a bench with funds collected from the student body. (Submitted photo)

The outdoor classroom has been supported by a wide range of benefactors: Tractor Supply donated troughs for raised bed gardens; Mike Harris designed and installed the timber border for the State of Indiana Garden; Barbara Lowe Hamilton donated a peony bush for the State of Indiana Garden; Mike Bergman donated limestone examples for the State of Indiana Garden; Bill Hendricks helped install the timber border; Sandy Fougerousse donated a rain barrel; Petrica Popoviciu donated heirloom tomato and pepper plants for the salsa garden; McCarty Mulch contributed garden soil; an anonymous donor donated mulch; and the Schenk and Shaffer families installed the raised beds. Sarah Hanson, Master Gardener Program coordinator and Donna Rogler, DNR Forestry, served as consultants.

Schenk said this is a multi-year project which will eventually include a mini arboretum with local state trees, limestone, a native plant area with alternate seating and other things that represent the State of Indiana.

Volunteers are still needed for the project for things such as helping during the summer with the vegetable gardens or donations. Contact the PTO for more information: Facebook: Center Grove Elementary School PTO.