Outdoor Classrooms Proposed for Athens High

A NEW ENDEAVOR PROPOSED for Athens High School would put some learning spaces in the great outdoors. On hand for the Tuesday meeting of the Troy Kiwanis Club with details of the proposed project were (left to right): Troy Superintendent Dr. Richard Machesky; Nadia Imam, President of Kiwanis Key Club at Athens; Kally Harris; Athens High Principal Dr. Lara Dixon; and Key Club Advisor Susan Syme.

by CYNTHIA KMETT

Over the past five years, there have been three requests for facilities for outdoor programs at Athens High School. Athens Principal Lara Dixon told this to the Troy Kiwanis Club at its meeting last Tuesday at the Maggiano’s Little Italy.

Kiwanis asked what they can do to help with such wishes, and the Key Club, sponsored by the Troy Kiwanians, said maybe they could help. They designed some plans for potential outdoor classrooms. One might be an art room on the south side of the building, by the bus circle. A second might be on the north side of the school and be used for more technical studies.

The kids told Dr. Dixon that would like both areas, and that they would each have room for 25 students. They liked the opportunity for the areas to have more landscaping, trees, and flowers, too, the principal added. Whether one or both classroom spaces would be built, they would be available for all classes to sign up and use throughout the day. Groups may use the areas after-school as well.

“I liked the idea of doing this service project as it’s one that will bring us all together to give service to the kids in our community,” said Judge Kirsten Nielsen Hartig, who first suggested the idea of leading the classroom project to her fellow Kiwanis members. Projects like this make a group coalesce, she added.

Ideas for the art classroom include benches, flowerpots. umbrellas, and trash cans surrounding a built-in circular concrete or stone bench. The TACC outdoor classroom would be a little more high-tech as it already has access to electricity and water. That’s because the area was once the auto shop. Here you’d find a pergola with built-in seating, flower pots, arborvitae and, naturally, trash cans.

Depending on the workstations selected, the project cost could be between $10,000 and $25,000, which must come mostly from fundraising.

Dr. Dixon noted that all equipment would be ADA compliant, and with a smile pointed out that the district has security cameras and they wouldn’t put in any furniture that could “walk away.” School districts, Dr. Dixon noted, know what companies make furniture that is durable and long-lasting.

Now, does the Kiwanis Club want to be part of the project? Well, yes.

A member, Jim Peard, has already volunteered to be one of the chairs to help raise funds. But it was noted that the second week in February is Charity Week at Athens and since these kids aim to raise $150,000 for their charity this winter, and since Kiwanis has a fundraiser in May, winter might not be the best time to raise money. The Key Club also is excited about the outdoor spaces, but could use a bit of time to get a fundraising effort organized.

The Kiwanis Club has members on the Foundation for Educational Excellence as well as the Troy Community Coalition, organizations which might find this a worthy investment for the community.

Kiwanis President Lori Sisk noted that the Kiwanis Foundation is a 501(c)3 entity and donations made to it for the Athens Classrooms will be deductible charity contributions. But don’t send your checks yet, there’s still a bit more organizing to be done.