Valley News – Residents of Newbury and Bradford to decide to buy 10-acre plot for outdoor classroom
Posted: 07/19/2021 9:47:30 PM
Modified: 07/19/2021 21:47:34
NEWBURY, Vermont – Even before the coronavirus pandemic, elementary schools in the Upper Valley were implementing outdoor learning. Among them was Newbury Primary School, which six years ago began using a nearby plot of land called Forest School as an outdoor education space.
Next month, residents of Newbury and Bradford, the two towns in the Oxbow Unified Union school district, will decide whether or not to buy the 10-acre plot off Pulaski Street. The school board has set a special meeting vote for 6 p.m. on August 17. An information meeting is scheduled for August 11, in person and on Zoom.
The warning for the meeting asks voters to approve the spending of $ 68,000 for the package and pay for it using money from the district’s surplus, which currently stands at $ 281,000, said Monday. Danielle Corti, Chair of the Oxbow District Board of Directors.
The plot is a five-minute walk from the school, on a one-way street. The school’s motto is “Peace in the world through harmony with oneself, harmony with others, harmony with nature,” Corti noted.
“It really worked wonderfully to bring those harmonies back to the Forest School,” she said.
It’s also a small patch of old-growth forest, tall pines and mature hardwoods, she added.
Where other schools have opened outdoor classrooms to deal with the pandemic 2021-22 school year, Newbury Elementary has been unable to use its Forest school. In the past two years it has been on sale and therefore banned, Corti said. The students had also left their mark on the property, temporary forts and the like, Corti said.
The then principal, Chance Lindsley, made an agreement with the landowner, John Renfrew, to use the plot for the forestry school. Students from all grade levels used the plot.
Forest class advocates tout how spending time outdoors teaches children to be curious, resilient and persevering.
Time spent outdoors can also help students struggling in a traditional row of desks.
If the purchase is successful, there will likely be additional costs to make the property both safer and more accessible, such as installing a gate and removing trees that could present a hazard.
Alex Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3207.