Bringing the classroom outdoors
Parent council member and landscape architect Stephanie Scott, parent council president Brianne Scott, former principal Suzanne Charron-Houle and current principal Marc Blake cut the ribbon on Sainte-Thérèse-d’Avila’s new outdoor classroom on Tues., June 18 during the school’s year end barbecue. O’Donohue photo

MARIONVILLE – On Tues., June 18, École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Thérèse-d’Avila in Marionville held their end of school year barbecue. Families set up their lawn chairs and picnic blankets in the school yard and took part in the fun. The festivities featured a bike track, popcorn, barbecue fare, bouncy castle, cake, silent auction and face painting.

A space transformed
Since 2017 Sainte-Thérèse-d’Avila has been remodelling their school yard. This year, an outdoor classroom was unveiled. O’Donohue photo

In addition to celebrating the end of another school year, the night also featured a ribbon cutting on the school’s new outdoor classroom. The space features several logs to serve as seating, and a large blackboard. On either side of the new classroom are butterfly gardens. Teacher, Veronique Savage explained that to encourage monarch butterflies to use the school yard, students collected milkweed plants from the area around the school, and planted them in their gardens. Savage noted that last fall, students found monarch caterpillars and they were able to raise them to be released, “we’re trying to replicate that experience every year now from the flowers we have in our garden,” she added. 

Former principal Suzanne Charron-Houle retired in February of this year, but returned for the ribbon cutting as she was instrumental in the remodelling of the school yard’s landscape. Charron-Houle explained that she applied for a grant from their school board, (Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est) for $50,000 and Sainte-Thérèse-d’Avila was selected as one of the grant winners. She went on to note that the swings and play structure stayed, but everything else was completed transformed. Charron-Houle explained that three phases were planned: the first was for an outdoor vegetable garden, landscaping and pathways; the second was the outdoor classroom space and the third is finishing up the paved area and painting games onto its surface. Phase three is scheduled to take place next year.

Current principal Marc Blake stated that Stephanie Scott, a member of the parent council, is a landscape architect, and helped to design the new plans for the upgrades pro bono. He added that some fundraising will need to be completed for phase three, “by this time next year, hopefully it will be done so that we can be walking on it for our barbecue.” School is officially out for Sainte-Thérèse-d’Avila, as their last day for the year was Thurs., June 20.