Rocky Point unveils new outdoor classroom
Rocky Point Middle School students returned to school with an enhanced educational locale — an outdoor classroom.
An idea that came about several years ago, it was finally completed and gifted by the Rocky Point PTA to the Middle School.
“Outdoor classrooms just became a thing quite a few years ago,” said Kristine Susmin, former president of the PTA. “Realizing how much the kids actually learn outside, how much they enjoy being outside is really what started the whole thing.”
The space is a new addition that highlights the advantages of outdoor learning and access to nature, both known to increase student enthusiasm and as being beneficial to social, emotional and physical health. It just so happened the COVID-19 pandemic began in the midst of planning it.
Assistant principal Dawn Meyers said the new classroom is located in the perfect spot. Located outside the school, the district added a cement slab for the 15 new desks to be placed upon. An outdoor whiteboard hangs on the side of the building.
The tabletops are versatile and turns into benches that can seat up to 30 students in a socially distanced manner.
Meyers said that the final touches were finished the Thursday before school started, and that was all new landscaping, while a container will eventually be moved for a secure barrier, so people won’t be able to travel from the parking lot to the space.
To reserve the room, teachers must fill out a Google Calendar request. While it’s located outside the middle school, Meyers said it’s open to classes at the high school, too.
“The feedback has been great,” she said. “Right now, they’re fighting over it. Teachers are constantly calling me up saying, ‘Can I use the classroom?’ So, it’s been really great.”
Meyer and Susmin both agreed that it took a community to get the classroom together and ready for the first day of school.
“If it wasn’t for the parents and the teachers and everybody that donated to the PTA, this project would never have been able to be funded by us,” she said. “We’re all so grateful.”
A ribbon-cutting took place the first week of classes to celebrate the new, unique learning environment.