Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, Oklahoma City, OK

Located in Edmond, Okla., St. Mary’s Episcopal School’s Beyond the Classroom program offers special morning and afternoon childcare in an effort to provide children with a safe, secure, “home away from home” atmosphere. Beyond the Classroom students (BTC) focused their Great American Cleanup (GAC) efforts on 60 acres of school grounds. The students worked to expand the nesting boxes trail for bluebirds, cut down invasive pears in the native grasses with easy-to-use tools provided by Troy-Bilt. They also installed two outdoor classrooms of stones that are sustainable, low maintenance and will last forever.

Students cleaned up ponds as the water levels dropped, trail litter clean ups each visit, monitored the nesting of birds at St. Mary’s and earned national recognition as Advanced Bird Sanctuary by National Wildfire Federation. Donna Mackiewicz is the Director of Beyond the Classroom at St. Mary’s Episcopal School and is constantly participating in Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s programs. We appreciate everything she is doing to help students grow. Way to go BTC!

Keep Andersen County Beautiful, TN – Outdoor Classroom

New Outdoor Classroom Inspires Community

Keep Anderson County Beautiful (KACB) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., constructed two outdoor classrooms at elementary schools in rural, impoverished areas of the county, thanks to a Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant.

The outdoor classroom pavilions were placed next to wetlands so that both children and adults could learn and discover more about wetland ecosystems. Through the project, KACB also developed 10 new community partnerships. One of the partners provided recommendations to altering the design of the outdoor classrooms, so that rain barrels could catch storm water runoff and the runoff could be being routed to the wetlands.

Keep Anderson County Beautiful Vice Chair Patricia Imperato explained that both ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the classrooms were very inspiring. Imperato wrote, “Seeing not only student and teacher participation and enthusiasm but also the many children’s parents who attended to celebrate these new additions to the school campuses. Many children related how happy they were to have an outdoor classroom because it was hard to study the wetlands when it was raining, which is an important climate event for a wetland.”

The classrooms provide a comfortable learning environment for more than 300 students as well as provide a meeting place for the community at-large. They will allow children from lower income families to have a safe outdoor public places to study and explore the importance of wetland ecosystems.