Windsor’s Skyview School of STEM receives $60,000 GOCO grant for outdoor classroom | TheFencePost.com

Windsor’s Skyview School of STEM receives $60,000 GOCO grant for outdoor classroom

Kelly Ragan

Skyview School of STEM kids entered the gymnasium class by class. They sat squirming on the gymnasium floor, waiting to hear the big news.

Kendra Jacoby, Skyview's gifted and talented teacher stood in front of the assembly and made the big reveal — Skyview received a $60,000 Great Outdoors Colorado mini grant for an outdoor classroom.

The classroom will include a music area, bat houses, an outdoor science lab, an art area, a pollinator garden, a native plant finder area and a digging area.

"We want it to be educational for the kids," Jacoby said. The idea is to utilize all five senses.

Preschoolers, fifth graders and grades in between erupted into applause. Most students had participated in the Roots and Shoots program, an after-school service highlighting agriculture, at least once. Some had participated since the program's inception. They'd taken something from the hands-on learning that Jacoby wanted to open up to all students in the district.

Receiving the grant was the culmination of years of work on the part of teachers, volunteers and several others.

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With signs sticking out of the dirt describing which sections of the outdoor classroom will be used for what, those years of work are finally tangible.

"It feels real," said Skyview principal Tammy Seib.

The ultimate goal for the classroom is connecting kids to nature and increasing their awareness of how they can and do affect the earth, Jacoby said. Encouraging the kids to get away from their screens and head outside is a big deal.

"I want them to have some of what we had growing up that they don't get today," Jacoby said.

Skyview needed to put up $3,500 to qualify for the grant. Now, the school hopes to raise back that money through donations, fundraising and corporate sponsorships, Jacoby said. That would cover the cost of the school's investment in the outdoor classroom and free the budget up some.

"The budget is so tight already," Jacoby said.

However, Jacoby would like to raise a total of $10,000. This would allow the school to invest in musical instruments and solar lighting for the outdoor classroom. Some of those musical instruments include a marimba, a SlapBoxx, winged chimes, tube drums and cactus rain sticks.

With the grant secured, it's possible to reach for the extra classroom additions.

It all began three years ago when Jacoby came to Alexis Joenes and Becca Walkinshaw with a dream. Joenes and Walkinshaw helped connect Jacoby to a landscape architect and volunteered time and man-hours to the project to ensure its success. That dream has expanded and turned into a reality.

"The more people who came and were involved, the more ideas that came," Walkinshaw said. "(Now there's) music, gardens, walkways. All that progressed through different conversations."

After the assembly, each Skyview kid was given a little cup with a sunflower seed inside. Their duty is to care for the seed over the summer and bring a flower back to school in the fall. They carried their seeds gingerly as they took a tour of the site for the outdoor classroom.

They were excited to be outside.

"I say dare to dream," Walkinshaw said. ❖

To donate

Buy a 4”x8”x2-1/4” brick with three lines of type with up to 20 characters per line for $40. Make checks payable to Skyview School of STEM.