April 26, 2015 -- Gathered beneath the canopy of the glorious copper beech in front of Sea Cliff School, students, faculty, and community members, shivering but invigorated by the early spring chill, met this past Friday afternoon to dedicate the school's new outdoor classroom. Perhaps reminding one more of a 4-H camp than a public school with logs split length-wise to provide bench-like seating, the classroom will offer teachers the opportunity to better integrate the natural world into their lessons.
Crediting the idea to teacher Diane Krupin, Principal Chris Zublionis, addressing students and staff, said that the space "would be a source of inspiration in our beautiful school yard, a space to learn during the school day, and a place of connection between our community and our school that would be open to the community at all times."
The classroom, dubbed "learning logs" in a school-wide vote, will always be a work in progress, and its very creation is a lesson in environmentalism. "As a school, we worked together to begin building something that will grow and develop over the next few years," the principal said. "Our outdoor classroom will be built by you, the students, over the next few years and will be made of only reused, recycled, or refurbished materials. So our challenge as a school is to keep going in the direction of this action and my greatest hope is that this classroom looks totally different next April." The logs used for the benches were recovered and refashioned by custodians Mr. Doug and Mr. Bob.
Following the Kindergarten's recitation of a poem about nature, Mr. Zublionis spoke again, this time about how nature has the power to inspire. "Nature is a great model for us as no matter how stormy it gets, we always return to the calm and peaceful days," he said, "I hope this space and the space it becomes inspires you as you write your first poem, as you develop friendships at Sea Cliff School and as you get older. Perhaps this will be the space where you think about what you are going to write in your college essay or consider what you want to dedicate your life to. But this space is now officially yours, to be enjoyed by you and to energize you."
The principal then called Ms. Krupin and Mr. Doug forward to cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the classroom.
The event concluded in camp-style with the Principal and teacher Ms. Dahl strumming their guitars and leading students and faculty in a rousing rendition of the first two verses of Woodie Guthrie's "This Land is your Land, This Land is My Land."
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