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Students learning outdoors at South Ridge Elementary Trail

The trail behind the Ridgefield school serves as a welcome outdoor classroom where everyone can learn in a different environment

RIDGEFIELD — When the weather is nice, students want to be outdoors.  The trail behind South Ridge Elementary School serves as a welcome outdoor classroom where everyone can learn in a different environment.

Linda Wear, sixth grade teacher at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School, utilized the trail often for lessons during her 18 years of teaching at South Ridge Elementary.

First graders in Margo Manke's class at South Ridge Elementary School are on the trail at the school's outdoor learning space. Photo courtesy of Ridgefield School District
First graders in Margo Manke’s class at South Ridge Elementary School are on the trail at the school’s outdoor learning space. Photo courtesy of Ridgefield School District

“The trail is wonderful!” she said.  “Over the years, the trail has been groomed and expanded primarily by volunteer efforts to be a more accessible learning space.”

Parents, teachers, and Eagle Scouts worked together over time to improve the learning space with a pavilion, benches, and educational signs.  Sixth grade students even performed an annual day of trail maintenance as a way to give back to the school when they graduated.

One special donation was a “trail tub” on wheels from a group of parents.  It’s filled with clipboards, pencils, bird and plant guides, and even a Coleman bird finder that plays 50 different bird calls.  

“Now teachers have all the resources they need when they go out on the trail with their students,” Wear said.

This week, Margo Manke’s first grade students were excited to take their science class to the trail.  They used their Full Option Science System (FOSS) kits to study plants along the trail, learning about plant parts and what plants need to live.

“Our classrooms are filled with eager young scientists who love to experience hands-on learning,” Manke said.  “The South Ridge Trail provides continued learning opportunities as we experience changes on the trail and in nature throughout the seasons of the school year.  We are so appreciative to have this optimum learning environment located on our South Ridge campus.”

Information courtesy of Ridgefield School District.

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