Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Port's Community Investment Funding helps with development of Outdoor Classroom project at Lax Kxeen Elementary

The new outdoor classroom at Lax Keen was designed with input from
School staff and students
(Photo from PRPA)

The newest addition to Lax Keen school is outdoors, with a new outdoor classroom serving to add to the educational experience at the east side elementary school in Prince Rupert. 

We made note of the new space earlier this month as part of our SD52 notes from October, today we get a bit of glimpse into the new facility, through some background from the Prince Rupert Port Authority. 

The project was a partnership between the Port's Community Investment Fund and SD52, the sheltered space an area which encourages students and educators to take their lessons outside, where they can experience their surroundings in a unique, safe, and accessible environment, and provides a new place for local daycares and other community groups to meet for outdoor activities, rain or shine. 

The outdoor classroom is directly beside the school’s accessible playground, which was built in partnership with PRPA through a previous Community Investment Fund project with the Lax Kxeen Elementary School Parent Advisory Committee. 

Nestled near the school’s gymnasium entrance, this location provides additional protection from the elements and direct exterior access to washroom facilities, which community groups can also gain permission to use. 

Built by local contractors, the 20’x20’ steel structure features a skylight, allowing natural light to illuminate the space. The soft rubber flooring is extended from the playground into the classroom area, making it accessible for people with varying degrees of mobility. 

Former Lax Keen Principal Susan Kobza who was an really proponent for the project noting of how it will add to the experience at the school.

“Taking students outside is good for their mental health and wellbeing, and it adds a different perspective to the classroom experience by expanding their learning environment and allowing them to engage all of their senses. Using the outdoor classroom as a starting point, classes can then carry on exploring the nearby creek and green spaces that surround us, learning hands-on about our natural environment.”

Port President and CEO Shaun Stevenson hailed the creativity of the local community towards the design and practical used for the new classroom.

“The outdoor classroom project is a testament to the immense creativity and passion of the educators and staff at Lax Kxeen Elementary School who helped develop and champion this concept, to further expand the opportunities available to their students. We look forward to seeing the many ways in which it is put to use for learning and play.”

School Board Chair Kate Toye celebrated the project in October noting of the input of the students towards its development.

“The Board is excited to see the development of this outdoor learning space with the input of students. We can’t wait to see the addition of the music wall. The Board expressed their thanks to the Prince Rupert Port Authority for their financial contribution to the construction of the outdoor classroom.”

The total cost of the outdoor classroom was $81,820 with the Port's Community Investment Fund providing for $40,320 towards it.

The New facility had its Grand Opening as part of Lax Kxeen's Halloween events last month.

A review of  how some of the past Community Investment Funding was used in Prince Rupert and area can be explored here.

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