R.F. Pettigrew’s outdoor classroom to reconnect students with nature

Education

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — School may be out of session, but there’s still plenty of work happening at R.F. Pettigrew Elementary. Construction of a new outdoor classroom began recently.

With children spending more time in front of screens, R.F. Pettigrew Elementary wanted to reconnect students with the outdoors with a new kind of classroom.

“Whether they’re just learning, taking their regular classroom activities and being outside, that’s a benefit. The fresh air, the sunshine, but also it’s an opportunity to bring in more environment-based learning,” R.F. Pettigrew PTO Co-President Sarah Olimb said.

The project was contracted out to Rick Foster and Foster Landscaping, who helped build Augustana’s outdoor classroom last year. He hopes the kids enjoy this new learning area, as much as he enjoys building them.

“My favorite place to be is not at the drawing board, it’s on the job site. So yeah, to enable kids to enjoy that special place outside, it’s a thrill,” Foster Landscaping Owner Rick Foster said.

To help connect future generations, families could buy engraved bricks in the outdoor classroom.

“You can think in future generations where the student’s now can bring their families back, and show them that’s my brick. I was there when this first outdoor classroom in Sioux Falls, and South Dakota I think, was established,” Olimb said.

The people behind this project hope other schools will follow their lead.

“We didn’t want this to be just a project just for our students. One of our ideas it would be a model, or an inspiration for the other school’s in the city and the state,” Olimb said.

All to reconnect kids with the beauty of the outdoors.

Olimb says she’s heard that some other elementary schools in Sioux Falls are already developing similar projects. Completion of this outdoor classroom should be done in about two weeks, if the weather cooperates.

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