Rosemont Elementary principal Tim Mushumanski says his dream is a reality.
Mushumanski and the entire school opened their new outdoor classroom with a ceremony Tuesday. He said he hoped to have a space for student and class use that could also be enjoyed by the neighbourhood ever since he took over as principal in 2015.
“We have a rich history of playing in our forest here. It’s super important to us,” said Mushumanski.
“We talk more and more about learning outdoors and what it does for us. We had the idea of let’s fundraise, let’s put something together, but let’s make it simple, permanent, earthy and useful. So this is what we came up with.”
The circle of stone, which derives inspiration from medicine wheels, was completed in April after the school and its parent advisory committee raised approximately $7,500. The project also received donations of labour and materials.
A bench and mature trees installed last week put a bow on the new space, which Mushumanski said will serve as an important part of students’ daily routines.
“It grounds us. A lot of our classes are starting to use this to start their day in a circle format, sharing what’s going on, where they’re at, whether they are ready to start their day.
“It gives us a chance to get out of a classroom environment, which sometimes can be overstimulating for a lot of our kids. This is a calm, pleasant place. [It’s] open, it’s not a noisy environment because it can’t really be, there are no echoing sounds. So it does a lot especially for our challenged learners.”
Tuesday’s event also featured a tribute to former Rosemont student Alistair Bellefeuille, who passed away in 2016. A “buddy bench” was installed next to the playground in his honour.
“It was really hard for our school. It was a really traumatic experience,” said Mushumanski. “He had cancer and went really quickly. It really affected all of us, so every year we try to remember him around the end of June.”