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$40,000 in GO grants go to seven schools

Seven LCPS schools have won more than $40,000 in grants from the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council for projects that get students outside, encourage physical activity and promote environmental awareness.

The North Carolina Schools Go Outside grants – known as GO grants – were awarded to Southwood Elementary, Northeast Elementary, Contentnea-Savannah K-8, Pink Hill Elementary, Moss Hill Elementary, Northwest Elementary and EB Frink Middle.

The largest of the grant awards – $15,000 – went to Southwood for the construction of an outdoor classroom in the school’s courtyard.

Dr. Heather Lancaster“I really just wanted an outdoor learning environment where my teachers and students could go out on a pretty day,” said Dr. Heather Lancaster, the school’s principal (shown at left) and author of the grant application. “The kids learn better when they can get outside and get a breath of fresh air.”

The 20-by-24-foot structure will cover tables already in the courtyard and its flexible seating configuration will enable group and collaborative learning, according to the principal. She hopes construction will begin this spring.

The $10,200 won by Northeast Elementary, on a grant written by teacher Rubi Blancas Orduna, will also go for an outdoor classroom, wired to allow students to use their iPads outside of class. 

“All grade levels will be able to take instruction outdoors for different purposes such as science experiments, greenhouse or physical education activities, or any other English Language Arts or STEAM lesson that encourages scholars to use motor and observational skills,” Blancas said.

Four schools will use their grant awards to cover all costs for field trips tied to outdoor activities and exploration of the environment.

Northwest Elementary teachers Rachel Hill and Kaitlyn Stroud plan to take 65 fifth graders to Camp Don Lee in Pamlico County for “interactive learning activities such as exploring the Neuse River through canoeing, casting dip nets and fishing,” Hill said.

The students will also put plankton under the microscope, study the impact of humans on the environment and tackle some team challenges. “This outdoor field trip is related to the fifth-grade life science standards, which meet the goals of both the GO grant and our science curriculum,” Hill said.

Northwest also won two other GO grants -- $2,604 to Ashley Avery and the second-grade team for an outdoor classroom reading area and $2,700 to Erin Greene and the third-grade team for a Camp Don Lee field trip.

Other schools awarded GO grants recently are: Contentnea-Savannah K-8 – $3,000 to teacher April Modlin for a field trip to Masonboro Island; Pink Hill Elementary – $2,000 to teacher Brenda Griffin and the school’s Grant Committee for a field trip to Pink Knoll Shores Aquarium and Island Expressway; Moss Hill Elementary – $3,000 for a fifth-grade field trip to Cape Lookout National Seashore; and EB Frink Middle – $610 to history teacher Chadwick Stokes to create a garden in the colonial style.