Brownville Elementary School aims to build outdoor classroom along nature trail

Posted Sept. 05, 2012, at 3:26 p.m.

BROWNVILLE, Maine — Last spring Brownville Elementary School’s half-mile nature trail, complete with nine stations providing information on the sites along the route, opened for use by teachers and students during the day and for the community on nights and weekends.

“This is our next dream,” Principal Lynn Weston said on Aug. 30, the second day of school, about plans to construct an outdoor classroom near the trail. “We have money left in the playground account and we are trying to make this our next goal to tie in to [the playground and nature trail]. We hope to put it right by the nature trail to be used as an outdoor classroom.”

“I found this picture and this is an outdoor classroom,” Weston said, showing an image of what the space at Brownville Elementary could look like with a fenced-in, curved seating area about 25 feet long to accommodate a class of students. The seating area is made out of stones with additional masonry covering the ground by the seating.

Weston said an account has been established for the outdoor classroom. She said the family of the late Willie Stubbs gave a contribution, originally intended for the winter clothing fund but moved to the outdoor classroom account with the family’s permission. In addition, alumni of Brownville Jct. High School contributed approximately $1,000 after Weston spoke at a reunion gathering during the summer.

“We had a couple of people come in and give estimates,” Weston said, noting that preliminary figures have project costs ranging from $3,000 to $6,000. She said Brownville Town Manager Matthew Pineo is “real supportive of it; he has steered me toward a couple of grants and he will help me in any way possible.”

The support of the community for the outdoor classroom is important, Weston said, because the space will serve not just the school but the town. “We hope to have it used by the community as a place to gather,” she said, with the classroom serving as another resource for Brownville Elementary to share.

Weston said the community has been using the nature trail since the opening of the path, being able to read the signs along the route that were developed by different classes and built with the support of various sponsors and grant money. The signs provide information on topics such as the impact of glaciers on the area, and Weston said the hope is to add more signs later in the school year and possibly expand the nature trail.

For more information, call the school at 965-8184.

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