With the snap of a pair of scissors, a long-awaited dream was finally realized on Monday morning, May 20 as the Outdoor Classroom at Siwanoy School was officially opened.
The Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom will not only enhance Siwanoy’s outdoor space, but it will serve as an important vehicle to augment students’ education across a number of disciplines and enable them to connect with nature. Features include a stage, student gathering area, music and movement areas, art panels, raised garden beds for classroom plantings, a butterfly cycle garden and a weather station. The outdoor classroom, which will also be available for use by the community when school is not in session, was made possible through an incredible fundraising effort by the Siwanoy PTA, Siwanoy Outdoor Classroom Committee, the Pelham Preservation and Garden Society, Pelham Education Foundation, and a New York State grant.
“It started as a dream, developed into a vision and is now a magnificent reality,” said Susan Gilbert, principal of Siwanoy School. “With the weather becoming nicer each day, I can think of no better time to officially open the outdoor classroom. I am so excited to welcome our students into this wonderful space, where they will learn about the natural environment in which we all live. I can’t thank all of those who made this possible, but I know that their many contributions will serve not just Siwanoy families, but the Pelham community for years to come.”
Ground was officially broken on the $257,000 project, located on a formerly unused grassy area at the back of the school, in December following several years of planning and fundraising. Major donors of the project include Jennifer and Trabue Bland, the DeCicco Family, Fred Alger Management, Inc., in memory of Michael Andrew Tamuccio, the Hade Family/Westchester Collision and Recovery, the McCormick/Pringle Family, Arthur and Catherine Scinta, the Bloise Family, Meridian Risk Management/Joan Solimine Real Estate, the Condon Family and the Gottfried Family.
“The students are excited to learn and explore nature,” said David Sparano, who was head of the Siwanoy PTAs Outdoor Classroom Committee. “Walking in the area after school, one can already see different plant experiments being conducted and see many children digging in the dirt and sand looking for something exciting. ”
“I am so proud to help cut the ribbon and officially open this beautiful new space to our students,” said Dr. Cheryl Champ, superintendent of schools. “Offering our students experiential learning opportunities is a key part of our District-wide curriculum and this outdoor classroom provides an incredible opportunity to enhance our program and broaden the education we give all of our students. I’m so incredibly thankful for the support and persistence that made this dream a reality.”