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Local School Volunteers Start Building Outdoor Learning Classrooms

Some of the volunteers building the Compass School outside learning area were, from left: Dawn Payne, Nancy Ward, and Vineland High School National Honor Society members Hema Varshani Muniappan and Alexandra Najera Olmeda.

Compass Academy Charter School volunteers recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for the first complete outside learning environment in Vineland, adjacent to its main building. The area will get children outdoors more and expand the way they learn.

The crew launched the first phase of construction right after the ceremony. When completed, the project will have outdoor classrooms, a children’s garden, reading stations, walking path, and several nature centers.

Almost 40 teachers, administrators, parents, high school students, and board members installed parking guides, cleared large areas of debris, pulled out vines, raked and weeded, put down slate for paths, and refinished picnic tables.

“A team of teachers wrote the grant for the project,” said Compass science teacher Dawn Payne. “Some of us were nearly in tears after so much got done by so many great volunteers in just our first day.”

The Compass Academy Charter School Education Foundation funded the project. The $5,000 initial grant is the first one made by the new organization. Foundation members and donors took part in the work.

“We are thrilled with this ambitious and cooperative endeavor and are looking forward to seeing this outdoor classroom area in full use by the students of Compass Academy,” said Nancy Ward, vice president of the foundation.

The next work party is scheduled for April 30.

Compass Academy Charter School is a highly ranked, free, public school with about 180 students in grades pre-K to fifth from Vineland, Millville, and Pittsgrove.