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Southlake Style

Westlake Academy Opens Outdoor Learning Center

May 17, 2017 08:06AM ● By Audrey Sellers

Taking the classroom outside: That’s the goal of the new Outdoor Learning Center on the Westlake Academy campus. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on the grounds with members of the Board of Trustees, students, faculty and the Westlake Academy Foundation.

The first phase of the project includes vegetable gardens as well as math and science stations. The Center also includes a planter box that enables students to do experiments on planting and watering, as well as a worm farm and compost bin.

Shortly after the opening, students wasted no time getting their hands dirty, planting varying types of vegetation in the garden.

For the Academy, it’s an opportunity to take their teaching to another level. “The Center allows us to extend learning beyond the classroom. Our students are now able to go out into the garden and find real world applications to what they’re learning in the classroom. It’s really about enriching the learning experience and extending it,” said Dr. Mechelle Bryson, executive director of Westlake Academy, via press release.

This new addition to campus couldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the efforts of the Westlake Academy Foundation and its giving supporters. One-hundred percent of the $116,000 needed for the project was raised during the Foundation’s 2016 Gallery Night event.

“It is because of all our very generous families, community members, and corporate donors that the Foundation was able to raise money for the initial construction of the Outdoor Learning Center. The Foundation is so very grateful to all the donors that have made the Outdoor Learning Center a reality. The Center is a great accomplishment that will benefit all students now and in years to come,” said Debbie Kraska, president of the Westlake Academy Foundation.

According to Dr. Bryson, the Center will fulfill a need in the DP department to do authentic research for their internal and external assessments as part of the IB program.

Troy Meyer, the project manager for the Learning Center, says this was a total team effort. “The most exciting aspect of this project was that we had a collaborative effort with teachers, staff, and principals who all looked for various ways to weave this project into our curriculum at Westlake Academy,” said Meyer.

Ground broke on the new Center at the end of January. It’s located on a half-acre plot of land behind the gymnasium on the north side of campus.

The second phase of the Center will include a math and science plaza as well as a large sundial, compass, and a 35-foot ruler. Initial plans have been drawn up for phase two, but no timetable has been established on when it will break ground.

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