It’s not every ribbon cutting that starts with safety scissors, but a representative of each class at Guilford Elementary used a pair of green-handled safety scissors to officially open the school’s new outdoor classroom.
The outdoor classroom was celebrated in a special ceremony at Guilford on Friday, September 29th. The foundation of the outdoor classroom is a raised garden bed for each grade level, thanks to a grant from the Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF). LEF President Wesley Clark was on hand for the ceremony, along with Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Chief of Staff Dr. Michael Richards and School Nutrition Services Director Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays.
Guilford Principal Lauren Sprowls kicked off the ceremony by having students brainstorm the kinds of activities they do in an indoor classroom and how they might be translated to an outdoor classroom. She asked the students to offer a “Gator clap” for all of those who helped with the ceremony, particularly physical education teacher Mark Pankau. Pankau wrote the LEF grant application and spent countless hours preparing the space.
Students also helped with the ceremony. Students in grades three through five painted rocks to decorate the space. Student speakers described the rocks and discussed some of the ways the new outdoor classroom could be utilized. Second graders sang “Each of us is a Flower.” The musical performance was under the direction of music teacher Melinda Windsor.
A multitude of local organizations contributed to the project, including Reston Bible Church, MOM’s Organic Grocery, Four Seasons and Glenn Cobb of Vulcan Materials Company.
Sprowls closed the ceremony by paying tribute to the Green Beans Club, the school’s environmental organization. She announced that the conservation efforts of the Green Beans Club resulted in the school receiving a 2017 Energy Star Award.
The afternoon concluded with an after-school environmental fair. Exhibitors at the fair included LCPS School Nutrition Services, LCPS Energy Education Team, LCPS Science Department, MOM’s Organic Grocery, Piedmont Environmental Council, the Nature Generation, Heritage Farm Museum, Ag in the Classroom, the Audubon Society, Morven Park, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and Vulcan Materials Company.