Roy-Hart Elementary receives grant that will go towards outdoor classroom

Posted 20 December 2020 at 10:22 am

Provided photo: From left include  Lura Kenward (Crosby’s Team Leader), Michele Harris (District Leader), Susan McLaughlin, Jessica Monaco, Zach Amey (Territory Sales Advisor), Donna VanSlyke and Dr. Hank Stopinski.

Press Release, Roy-Hart Central School

The Royalton-Hartland Elementary School is getting closer to their goal of an outdoor classroom space at their site. Thanks to the generosity of Exxon Mobil’s Educational Alliance, they received a grant for $500. The Crosby-Reid Petroleum Company decided to match the grant and added an additional $500 for the school.

The Exxon Mobil Education Alliance is a national program that funds math and science programs at schools in need.  It is part of their ongoing effort to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Their hope is that their partnership with Royalton-Hartland Central School District will give students the tools and technology they need to connect what they learn in the classroom with what they see in the real world and create “Aha” moments.

Jessica Monaco and Susan McLaughlin are the two teachers at the school who are spearheading the outdoor learning spaces. “We are trying to extend what we did at the playground,” explains Ms. Monaco.  “As educators we thought it would be nice to give students the opportunity to learn science by interacting with the natural world on campus.”

“We also wanted our campus to have a beautiful natural setting and more space for the community to enjoy things like a walking trail and stage,” adds Ms. McLaughlin.

Thanks from input from their fellow teachers, administration and the community there are several proposals for their vision of their outdoor space which is broken into nine quadrants. Area 1 would be a pollinator garden that will contain an insect hotel and a bluebird house. Area 2 will contain a sundial, an elevated sand table, talking tubes, solar shields and chalkboard flowers.

Sycamore and tulip trees will be planted in Area 3. A greenhouse and mini orchard containing apple, peach, pear and cherry trees will occupy the space of Area 4.

Area 5 will be the designated graduation garden and have a tree planted by the kindergarten class of that year and also contain willow domes. Raised beds, a shed, rain collection barrels and compost stations will populate Area 6.

A Trim Trail will take up Area 7, which is the old playground. Area 8 will give students a chance to tap into their creative side with an outdoor stage and moveable seating. The final area, number 9, will contain vertical gardens.

When the district was told that they were receiving monies from Exxon and Mobil and Crosby-Reid they were thrilled.  “I thought it was amazing,” says Ms. McLaughlin.  “This will help us fulfill so many plans.”

Ms. Monaco says, “It means a lot to everyone that we have the community’s support for this venture. We think this will be a great space for everyone to enjoy.”

Dr. Hank Stopinski, the District’s Superintendent, adds, “This is what Royalton-Hartland is all about – community.”

“This is very exciting,” says Principal Donna VanSlyke.  “It is very generous and to think we now have $1,000. We can do almost everything we were hoping to accomplish.  We are very thankful to Exxon Mobil and Crosby’s for this gift.”