Prince George’s elementary school opens outdoor classroom

Chris Bayes, vice president of the PTA at Kenilworth Elementary School in Prince George’s County, was on vacation on Chincoteague Island when the idea of creating an outdoor classroom at Kenilworth Elementary came to mind.

“As I toured and admired the amazing riches of the Chesapeake Bay area, I imagined a way for Kenilworth to give children hands-on experience with nature while demonstrating the importance of habitats and conservation,” Bayes said in a statement prior to a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony for the project. “Our contribution to this vision is this outdoor classroom, which can be leveraged in many ways to promote creative and practical learning.”

Teachers will be able to provide some real-life application to their science and math classes this year by taking their students to the new classroom, filled with plants and trees that are native to Maryland, butterfly and bird feeders and a rain collector.

The school’s PTA, which received help from throughout the Bowie community, paid the $6,000 for the outdoor classroom, using money raised from fundraisers.

Quon Wilson, a spokesman for the school system, said Monday that the new classroom is a way for teachers to reinforce and supplement life science lessons and will also be used as a “calming and soothing space” for special-needs students.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.

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