Ridley’s first outdoor classroom

Rob and his outdoor classroom

by Kellie O’Brien, ’16

Imagine writing an essay, solving equations or reading about biology while taking a deep breath of the fresh air outside. In the fall, you can hear the crunch of the leaves under your feet or, in the winter, you can feel the first snowflakes landing on your skin or, in the spring, you can see the flower buds slowly starting their quest for bloom! Sound like some appealing learning atmospheres?

Many students think an outdoor classroom is an excellent idea and a great way to spark creativity, but there are some concerns for this brand new classroom setting.

Sophomore Jessica Tait is thrilled about the idea. “An outdoor classroom would be cool, kids could learn about the environment and get more fresh air and vitamin D.” Although her main concern is that the surroundings may be distracting for some students tend to lose focus easily.

“It would depend on the person. It would be nice going out to get some fresh air during the day, but also it could be a really big distraction being outside and trying to learn at the same time,” said junior Carlee Herrin. “If we were able to be outside at any point of the day, I think it would be nice given the option to go at lunch or go out to the benches to get fresh air, eat, and see a friend for a bit before your next class.”

Senior Robert Wingate envisioned this opportunity with the help of Ms. Wilson, a biology teacher. While they were working in one of the school’s gardens for the Horticulture club, they realized that they were the only class spending time out in the courtyard. From that, they thought an outdoor classroom would be a fantastic idea.

“I was looking for an Eagle Scout project, and a positive way of leaving my mark on the school. Also, its a great way to raise awareness to the rest of the students about the courtyard”

“I imagine it being used much like the library where teachers sign up for a class and students utilizing it be to go outside and work.”

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