Washington Elementary receives new outdoor education area

By Taylor J. Hale, Stevens Point News

STEVENS POINT – City and state leaders gathered at Washington Elementary School on Aug. 1 to celebrate the opening of a new outdoor classroom created by a local Girl Scout Troop.

Planning for the project started in the spring of 2019. Troop No. 6265 spent over 50 hours constructing outdoor benches, a table, and an easel. The young ladies’ hand-cut, drilled, nailed, and wood burned each piece.

Katie Klaas is a troop member and student at P.J. Jacobs. She helped build the outdoor equipment. Klaas noted that her favorite part of the project was working with wood burning tools.

“I liked doing the wood burning on the benches,” Klaas explained. “We traced out the letters and burned them in.”

The troop was also presented with a Girl Scout Silver Award during the ceremony, one of its highest honors.

Mayor Mike Wiza, State Representative Katrina Shankland, and other community leaders were present during the event.

“The silver award is the second-highest award you can achieve, and the fact that the ladies came up with this idea to give back to the school many of them attended for outdoor seating is something that is very thoughtful,” Wiza said. “Especially with COVID-19, the demand for outdoor seating and learning is needed.”

Washington Principal Ryan Hinner is thrilled to see the new outdoor education space come to Washington. He said that any teacher could use the area to provide an outdoor learning environment throughout the school year.

“It’s essential to get outside and get a break from the classroom and enjoy an educational experience in nature,” Hinner said.