James Kennedy Elementary students Blake Simms, Kayleigh Welk, Chloe Cao and Dayton Molenar planted 35 native shrubs for their new outdoor classroom.

James Kennedy Elementary students Blake Simms, Kayleigh Welk, Chloe Cao and Dayton Molenar planted 35 native shrubs for their new outdoor classroom.

James Kennedy Elementary ready for classes in the great outdoors

Students help build outdoor classroom and natural playground

Students at James Kennedy Elementary have been busy planting their future outdoor classroom.

The Walnut Grove school recently received $1,270 in funding from Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds, a national program that helps create inviting school grounds with diverse natural features. They also received $200 from NatureKids BC, a provincial non-profit group that helps connect children with opportunities to explore nature. The funding will support James Kennedy Elementary’s greening project to create an outdoor classroom and natural playground.

The new outdoor classroom and natural playground will give students the opportunity to learn about and connect with nature on their own school grounds.

The classroom and playground will consist of native trees, a native plant garden, logs and boulders for outdoor classroom seating, an imaginative play area, and a food garden.

“We had a muddy hill with a drainage problem on our primary play area that needed to be improved. We knew we had an opportunity to give our students something special,” said teacher Marlee St. Pierre.

Less than a week after learning that the school had been chosen to receive the grant, eight large native trees were put in the ground by the school district  maintenance crew.

Soon after, students in the James Kennedy Nature Club planted 35 native shrubs around the trees. They got it all done before temperatures dipped and the ground froze.

“It was thrilling to see the children so excited,” said parent and club co-ordinator Melissa Rolfson. “They chose which plants they wanted for our school grounds, dug the holes and carefully planted the native species — everyone participated.”

Langley Environmental Partners Society was also on site with shovels and gloves to help the children with the planting project.