LCPS Challenge grant to bring outdoor classroom to Northwest
This spring, students at Northwest Elementary School will be able to study in an outdoor classroom surrounded by wisteria, jasmine, lemon balm and other native flowers and herbs thanks to the school’s winning the 2018-2019 LCPS Challenge Grant for campus beautification.
The selection of Northwest for the $2,500 prize was announced last week when Superintendent Brent Williams, Associate Superintendent Frances Herring, Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II and Finance Director Eric Adams presented the winner’s check to principal Heather Walston.
Three other schools received runner-up awards presented in recognition of “the quality of the grants and their willingness to beautify their schools,” said Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II, who coordinated the grant process.
First runner-up was Pink Hill Elementary, which received $1,000; second runner-up, Kinston High, $750; and third runner-up, Banks Elementary, $500.
“There were several outstanding grants, but there could be only one winner,” Harvey said.
Northwest is obligated to match the district’s award with $2,500 of its own; that money will come from an annual donation Sanderson Farms has made to the school for several years, according to Walston. Any school in the district was eligible to apply for the Challenge Grant provided it had the matching funds or was assured of receiving them.
“Words simply cannot express how proud I am of my teachers that poured their hearts into writing this grant,” Walston said. “This interactive classroom will impact all students K-5. The teachers wanted to provide a space that gives students the opportunity to spend time outdoors while gaining a better understanding of classroom subjects, particularly science.”
As outlined in a grant application written by teachers Rachel Hill and Kaitlyn Hill, plans call for the construction of an outdoor classroom large enough to accommodate an entire class next to the school’s main entrance. The structure will be enhanced by the planting of a variety of flowers, herbs and garden vegetables and by bird feeders and bird baths
“We think that having instructional time outside in a new setting will … make learning more exciting,” the grant application reads. “Students will also have the opportunity to explore class topics in novels ways that are not possible in the classroom.”
Along with construction of the outdoor classroom, the grant is to pay for books, plants, a weather station, garden supplies, compost bin and bird feeders and birdbaths. Also in the plan are “educational murals” on the walls of the school adjacent the outdoor classroom.
Northwest sees the outdoor classroom project as both a instructional initiative and a beautification effort.
“The interactive classroom will be in a highly visible location next to the main entrance of the school,” Walston said. “This will allow all of our stakeholders to be a part of all of the exciting things we are doing here at Northwest. Additionally, we will also involve the community members to assist in various projects, fostering collaboration between our students and community.”
According to the principal, the timeline for construction begins with site preparation in November and completion of the project in March or April.