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The huge courtyard at the center of Pleasant Grove Elementary School will look a lot different in the future.
Thanks to a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant, the space will be renovated into an outdoor classroom.
“It was a total surprise,” Principal Melissa Whicker said upon grant notification. “I just assumed when I opened the email it was going to tell me our project was not selected and to try again…like the other two times we applied. I’m so excited for our students.”
District Grant Writer Juliann Vachon wrote in the application that Pleasant Grove staff wanted to renovate a “deteriorating, underutilized courtyard located in the middle of our school building and turn it into a beautiful, useful outdoor classroom and gathering space. This grant would help us create an outdoor learning environment where students, staff and our extended PGES family and community can experience nature in a safe and somewhat controlled environment. In its current state, the courtyard is unfit for educational use.”
Whicker said there are many innovative learning opportunities that an outdoor classroom will provide such as:
A safe, semi-sheltered outdoor area for physical activity
Shade trees and student-created plant and flower beds
A water feature including both fish and plant life
Expansion of student agricultural literacy
The opportunity to not only view nature, but connect with it
Hands-on learning opportunities with our natural world
A quiet reading area for students and staff
A location that can be utilized for peer tutoring
Increased potential for community involvement in school-related activities
A positive reward area, an outdoor eating area for students and staff
A gathering place for staff professional learning community meetings
Nature inspirations for student art projects
Beautiful landscaping to complement our aging building
Visible from both inside and outside the building
Development of a life-long appreciation of the role that we play in earth management
“Juliann’s keen eye for detail and knowledge of how to write effective proposals helped us make key revisions that resulted in us receiving the $5,000 for our project,” she said.
Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,200 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 900 and a classified staff of over 800 to make the district the leader in educational excellence.