What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?

Walden Public School unveils new outdoor classroom

A unique outdoor classroom was officially unveiled at Walden Public School on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 10 am.

Located at Rainbow District School Board’s second green school, the classroom is a natural next step in the school’s focus on sustainability.

Teacher Wes Hubert, who has been on staff since the inception of Walden Public School in 2009, transformed the space. His vision for the area was brought to life with the help of students, staff and support from the community. The outdoor classroom was named Hubert’s Habitat in his honour.

“My dream was to turn the pond and plateau area behind the school into a place where students could learn about and in nature,” said Hubert, who began fundraising for the project two years ago, receiving support from the Sudbury Ornithological Society and TD Friends of the Earth.

Hubert made all the necessary contacts to access the space and his dream began to take shape. An excavator generously provided by Turf King was brought in to level the area. Artist James Mishibinijima was invited to create paintings.

“Then I built two outdoor classrooms, stairs, benches and a border for the pond,” says Hubert. Vale generously supplied an excavator to finish the leveling and make way for the trees and shrubs. “I organized a work evening for parents and teachers to spread woodchips along the paths, spread topsoil, plant trees and spread wildflower seeds,” says Hubert.

Classes have been using the area for plant, animal and pond studies. In the winter months, they enjoyed snowshoeing and made snow sculptures in the space. “We have done experiments and held classes in the outdoor classrooms,” says Hubert. “The Indigenous artist gave talks on the meaning of the symbols he painted.”

The pond is now quite healthy. It is filled with aquatic insects, frogs, turtles and small fish. A family of ducks lives in the pond and there are many species of birds. A mink and ruffed grouse have made their home close by. The plateau, once barren, flourishes with wildflowers, grasses, bushes and trees.

“Local Elders helped to open the restored green space as well as members of the community who contributed time and resources, including our partners at Vale,” says Principal Chris Bourré. “It was a celebration of living and learning, turning vision into reality.”