Timber Ridge Elementary unveils outdoor classroom on Earth Day
by Rachel Gray
April 23, 2014 01:04 AM | 2844 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Timber Ridge Elementary ‘Wolfie’s Outdoor Classroom’ student team enjoys a moment to celebrate their new outdoor classroom. From left are Sam Maloney, Jack Story, Robert Della Bernarda, Luke LaBouff and Alec Burnett.<br>Special to the MDJ/ Katie McElvy
Timber Ridge Elementary ‘Wolfie’s Outdoor Classroom’ student team enjoys a moment to celebrate their new outdoor classroom. From left are Sam Maloney, Jack Story, Robert Della Bernarda, Luke LaBouff and Alec Burnett.
Special to the MDJ/ Katie McElvy
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MARIETTA — A Cobb elementary school unveiled a new outdoor classroom Tuesday afternoon during a school-time celebration coinciding with Earth Day.

Timber Ridge Elementary, near Roswell Road in east Cobb, opened the new learning space to more than 700 students, teachers and parents who got a chance to admire the perfect setting for the students to grow their knowledge.

The classroom was a former amphitheater that had been unused for nearly a decade. It had fallen into disrepair and was heavily infested with poison ivy and wasps.

When the lead science teacher at Timber Ridge Elementary, Alison Dunford, first walked the woody terrain on a hot June morning, the vision was born.

“In the beginning, we had no idea what form this would take,” Dunford said. “Over the past year, through the kindness of countless volunteers, a dilapidated and abandoned outdoor classroom has been remade into a beautiful and valuable resource.”

After more than a year of volunteer work by students, teachers, local Scout groups and others, the space has been fashioned into a multipurpose, fully-functional, outdoor classroom.

The shaded space, named “Wolfie’s Outdoor Classroom” in honor of the school mascot, is home to woodland gardens encircled by a natural rock border, a wooden stairwell, seating area and a refurbished stage complex, which can be used not only as a teaching space but also as a setting for student performances, school celebrations and meetings.

At Tuesday’s celebration, fifth-grade student Sam Maloney, serving as Master of Ceremonies, took a moment to share what the outdoor classroom space means for Timber Ridge.

“This legacy will be enjoyed for many decades, I hope,” Maloney said, flanked by fellow fourth-and fifth-grade outdoor classroom student leaders, Luke LaBouff, Alec Burnett, Robert Della Bernarda and Jack Story.

Principal Adam Hill said outdoor classrooms are springing up in schools nationwide to nurture dynamic, hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a real-life setting.

“Children love being outdoors,” Hill said. “(The setting) provides children with a special multi-sensory encounter that creates a strong physical memory to the activities and lessons taking place in this outdoor space.”

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