Artist’s conception provides an example of what an outdoor learning space coming to Chemainus Secondary School might look like.

Artist’s conception provides an example of what an outdoor learning space coming to Chemainus Secondary School might look like.

Final requirements reached for Chemainus Secondary outdoor learning centre

Project will be available to the public after school hours

The required $5,000 needed to build an outdoor learning space at Chemainus Secondary School has been reached.

With generous donations from the Chemainus Secondary Parent Advisory Council, Halalt First Nation, Paper Excellence and a few private donors who wish to remain anonymous, the project goal was exceeded and should be ready for September when students return to class for the 2021-22 school year.

“The outdoor learning spaces that we are putting into a bunch of our schools are a project in progress,” noted Mike Russell, director of communications for the Cowichan Valley School District. “We received grant funding for all of these and some of the designs, like Chemainus, were over the budget from the grant.”

The community came through to cover the difference and some money is still coming in.

“Anything over and above the need, they will put in to make the project even better than envisioned,” said Alana Starkie, outgoing chair of the Chemainus Secondary PAC.

Chemainus Secondary School principal Lori Hryniuk noted it’s an incredible opportunity to have a covered outdoor learning space at the campus to be used by all learners throughout the school year.

“The vision for our Outdoor Learning Centre consists of a covered structure and amphitheatre, along with an expansion and revitalization of our garden space,” she added.

It will occur in three phases, beginning with the building of the covered structure. The second phase will be the construction of a natural rock amphitheatre up the slope in front of the structure and the third phase consists of the expansion/revitalization of the school’s current garden space to include new fencing, gate, irrigation and landscaping to tie the whole project together.

“This project is so important, as we know that regular time spent outdoors contributes to better mental health and happiness, regardless of age, and research at the K-12 level indicates that outdoor experiences lead to higher student engagement and relevance,” Hryniuk pointed out. “The creation and consistent use of outdoor environments must be a priority in K-12 design to foster students’ overall well-being. This space will also be a benefit to the broader community as it can be used by the general public during non-school hours, just as our school track does now.”

All future donations will go toward Phases 2 and 3. Tax receipts will be issued by request for a minimum donation of $100. There’s a donation button on the Chemainus Secondary School website that’s easy to use or interested persons can call 250-246-4711 and speak to someone in the front office to arrange a donation. Emails can also be sent to chssheadsecretary@sd79.bc.ca.

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The funds are in place to add an outdoor learning space at Chemainus Secondary School. (File photo by Don Bodger)

The funds are in place to add an outdoor learning space at Chemainus Secondary School. (File photo by Don Bodger)

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