Hampton High gets outdoor classroom
Published 8:53 am Friday, October 31, 2014
A Hampton High School project not only taught students hands-on landscaping skills, it also added a new outdoor classroom space to the school’s campus.
Agriculture Science teacher Gary Keith said he brought the idea to his students three years ago to see if they would be interested in working on the project for some extra practice in the field.
“I used to like it in college when the professors would take us out when the weather was nice and we would have class outside under a tree,” Keith said. “I always enjoyed that and thought these students would enjoy it as well.”
While he had the idea for the project, students in the landscaping classes did the majority of the work with Keith supervising the progress.
“I am really proud of the students,” he said. “They joined in and jumped right in with both feet. The students helped build all of this.”
The students worked on the project in phases, and Keith said they first started with landscaping the lawn in the area at the back of the school.
“This was hard work,” said student Christian Yates. “We started from the ground up. It was all worth it.”
For the first phase, they added flowers, bushes and trees and leveled the sidewalk so it would be handicap accessible. The second phase, completed last year, included brick paver walkways, a decorative pergola and the framework for the cover of the classroom space.
This year, the students completed the outdoor classroom, adding floors, picnic tables, benches and a stage to the pavilion that can hold about 30 people. They also built a firepit near the pavilion for “ambiance.”
Keith said all funding for the project came from the greenhouse plant and flower sales.
Now that the project is complete, Keith said other HHS teachers have already started to use the outdoor classroom. He also suggested the space be used to allow students to have lunch outdoors on Friday if they had good behavior or grades all week.
“That is something we are still working out,” Keith said. “We just finished this a week ago so everything is still new.”
The plans for the outdoor classroom space are not finished, and Keith said more landscaping will be added to the area. He said they will also be removing an old metal rail fence along the edge and installing wooden columns to match the rest of the space.
He also discussed plans to use the area around the classroom as a teaching garden featuring different varieties of day lilies, irises and roses.
The uses for the space don’t end when the school day does; the area has already been utilized for a picnic on homecoming weekend and is becoming a popular spot for tailgating before football games and the future basketball games.
Student Matthew Whitehead predicted the outdoor classroom would be a feature of Hampton High for years to come.
“It has been good to see it come this far,” he said. “This is something that we will be able to show to our grandkids and be proud that we did this. This is not a rinky-dink project. We put our whole hearts into this.”