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Barkley Bridge school builds outdoor classroom

Barkley Bridge Elementary School has proven time and again that it is capable of meeting any challenge it faces.

Such will be the case on Wednesday when students, parents, faculty members and other volunteers will pitch in to construct an outdoor classroom expansion in just one day.

The Outdoor Classroom Day – the first ever for Hartselle Schools – will be conducted in partnership with the Alabama Outdoor Classroom (AOC) Program and was supported by community volunteers from GE’s North Alabama Volunteer Chapter.

The event will get underway at 8 a.m., with students alternating in shifts as volunteer workers, and concluded at 2 p.m. with a celebration of the day’s accomplishments.

The volunteers will build a songbird sanctuary, a dry creek streambed and rain garden, a bog garden with frog and lizard habitat, raised bed gardens and other outdoor classroom learning stations.

Barkley Bridge Elementary had enrolled earlier in the AOC Program and became eligible to participate in an Outdoor Classroom Day. An outdoor classroom committee, chaired by first grade teacher Joy Thomas, spearheaded an earlier phase of the classroom’s development. April Lupardus Waltz,  a conservation education specialist with the Alabama Wildlife Federation, provided technical assistance and help-ed plan the Outdoor Classroom Day.

Throughout the day, students and volunteers worked side-by-side to build the new learning stations. The classroom already featured a butterfly garden, perennial garden and weather station,

The new learning stations will provide opportunities for students to learn more about songbird and butterfly migrations, wildlife habitat needs for local wildlife and soil and water conservation.

The funds and materials for the project come from a GE Foundation Grant, a grant from State Senator Arthur Orr and donations from the school PTO, as well as parents and grandparents of students. Business sponsors included Corum’s Building Supply, Dominoes, Emerson Climate Technologies, Fastenal, Kroger, Little Ceasars, Vulcan Materials, Lowe’s and Sonoco.

A goal of the outdoor classroom program is to provide hands-on, outdoor learning opportunities that allow students of all ages to utilize multiple-disciplinary skills in a fun and exciting environment.

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