On Friday, October 12th, Jessie Duncan School’s students and staff, and Penhold community members held a ceremony celebrating the opening of their new outdoor classroom. The school hosted the celebration of the newly built space with students, staff and a number of guests. Also, Indigenous Elder John Sinclair shared a blessing.
“This space can bring the students together so they develop a closer relationship and bond with each other, being in this tipi, being called ‘our home’,” said Indigenous Elder, John Sinclair. “I bless your home and to keep everybody that enters the home in a kind place.”
“This is an amazing space for learning,” said Kory Sholdice, Principal, Jessie Duncan School. “We are excited about the opportunities it will give us. We will learn more about Indigenous culture and teachings, and also about nature and science. We are also excited to have an outdoor learning environment. In a day and age of screen time and devices, having a special place like this is valuable. We have already seen how engaged our students are in the space and that’s what we hoped would happen.”
The new outdoor classroom includes a tipi designed by Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, Clare Butterfly. The tipi sits on a concrete slab donated by a local company. There is an Indigenous herb garden in the area, and additional landscaping done. Also, the school plans to add Indigenous art, and a class set of backpacks and tools to help students with their learning in the outdoor space.
Jessie Duncan School staff and school council worked together to fundraise more than $15,000 towards the project through the school’s spell-a-thon, Love Bug Boogie dance, and individual donations. Also, community organizations provided donations of cash, materials and labour.