PECI Parents Council aims for outdoor learning spaces

TAKING IT OUTSIDE Both senior and elementary PECI students such as (From left) Evan Keller, Colin Lunn and Joanne Keller will benefit from the creation of outside learning spaces (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

An effort to beautify the grounds and create outdoor learning spaces at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute is afoot.

In a fundraising effort organized by the K-12 school’s Parent Council, students are selling spring planters at a cost of $25 and is just the latest of several efforts that have been initiated since the school was amalgamated with the former Queen Elizabeth school two years ago.

“Parent council has been busy supporting student learning by purchasing things like technology, extra gym equipment,” Parent Council president Glenda Keller told the Gazette. “One of the larger projects in the fall was planting trees in the yard to provide some much needed shade as it was never an elementary yard before.”

Keller explained parent council funding for projects such as these comes from school fundraising and donations from local businesses. The current fundraiser is aimed towards a new, exciting project of creating a few outdoor learning spaces for all K-12 to use and enjoy. Plans for such spaces are still in the early planning stages but could include one or both of PECI’s courtyards or a cultivated space somewhere else on campus.

Greer Koutroulides, CWS Lead Teacher and Student Success Lead Teacher said outdoor learning spaces would benefit all Panthers. “It would be fantastic to have dedicated and functional spaces to take our classes to outside. I don’t doubt that these spaces would be used constantly throughout the day,” she said.

Grade 10’s Sage Noxon envisions science classes taking advantage of the courtyard more often. “Having classes outside is the favourite part of our day. If there were more spaces and spots to work, we could do it more often,” she said.

Matt Sheahan, Art and FMNI Lead Teacher added students benefit and thrive from being in outside learning enviroments. “We are inspired by everything around us and able to utilize that in our work. For example, in drama we are able to use the natural environment to inspire dialogue, writing, movement and connection with the world around us,” Sheahan said. “We need to show students that learning happens everywhere, not just inside the four walls of a classroom.”

“Learning outside would be great when the weather is nice. There are birds out there, and when I hear birds singing it reminds me of music and that helps me learn,” added Grade 2 student Colin Lunn.

Those looking to support this effort can purchase planters from any student that attends PECI or call Keller at 613-503-2955.

“Since the beginning, we’ve always have such amazing community support for our County schools and that’s led to successful fundraisers and we don’t expect this one to be any different,” Keller added.