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Breaking Ground on Skyline's Outdoor Classroom

Skyline's Outdoor Classroom (Photo Credit- Phil Grasso)Skyline's Outdoor Classroom (Photo Credit- Phil Grasso)

Working in partnership with EarthTeam and Save the Redwoods League, Skyline High School's Green Energy Academy broke ground on an Outdoor Classroom on Saturday, April 13.

Outdoor Classroom DesignOutdoor Classroom Design

Students from the school's Environmental Justice League and after-school internship program spent the day placing previously cut tree rounds for seating, carving paths for a student walkway and planting native plants to support a redwood ecosystem and installing an all-weather chalkboard.

The after school internship program is in its first year at Skyline High School. Students dedicate 75 hours throughout the year designing, planning and implementing a school-based project. The Green Academy's internship program is an opportunity for students to gain work-based experiences while developing 21st Century skills such as leadership, communication, organization and planning skills. Each year a new group of students will participate in the program and continue with the restoration efforts at the school.

The effort builds on a partnership between EarthTeam and Skyline to study and restore natural habitats in the redwood forest and creeks near the school. Students have already participated in a range of activities to monitor the health of the creeks, clean up litter, remove invasive species and plant California native plants.

(Photo credit- Phil Grasso)(Photo credit- Phil Grasso)According to EarthTeam Restoration Director Chiara Swartout, planing for the project began back in October. About 15 students have been meeting afterschool two hours each week to design and execute the project.

"Students began by exploring their campus, making ecosystem observations and narrowing down their restoration site. After choosing the site, they began researching Redwood ecosystem organisms, especially birds, insects and plants. Students were divided into groups, researching a plant palette, bird boxes, and designing the physical layout of the site based on student and teacher input through surveys they composed and distributed."

The surveys revealed that teachers from across the campus were interested in using the space. Most said they would take classes out at least once each month and many indicated that they could use an outdoor classroom once each week throughout the school year. The outdoor classroom, located just outside the school's science wing will allow teachers from all disciplines to take students outside to study and learn from nature.

In addition to completing the installation of the outdoor classroom in the future, students plan to build bird boxes, document all site research completed to date, and design curriculum boxes to support outdoor education based on the research findings at the site.