Making a Difference: Whitemarsh Elementary School Outdoor Classroom
Four boys carrying lumber.

In the Colonial School District, learning takes place inside -- and outside -- of the classroom. For students at Whitemarsh Elementary School (WES), a formerly unused courtyard has been transformed into an outdoor classroom thanks to the WES Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and Eagle Scout Jordan Santoli.

"This was my elementary school. I have fond memories of my time here," said Santoli, a 2017 Plymouth Whitemarsh High School graduate who is now studying software engineering at Drexel University. "It's good to be able to give back to the people who've helped me along the way."

Santoli led a team of close to 25 Boy Scouts who spent approximately 250 man hours renovating the space. They built tiered benches for "stadium seating" along two brick walls and turned industrial electrical spools into brightly colored tables with stools.

"It was good that we could use recycled materials," the scout said. "The spools were going to get thrown into a landfill, but we were able to bring them here and make something great with them."

The project was one of the requirements for Santoli to earn his Eagle Scout rank, the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scouting program.

Behind the scenes, WES's Second Grade Teacher Alan Mizgorski and Library Media Specialist Cathy Campbell originated the idea, and parent Ellen Glendinning kept the ball rolling by bringing the project to the PTO, communicating with Colonial School District facilities staff and organizing the finances for the project.

Nine people standing at ribbon. One dressed in scout uniform with big cardboard scissors.

"Many thanks go to the faculty, the Whitemarsh Elementary community and the PTO for donating money, and thank you to the many local businesses that donated supplies or food for the workers," said Glendinning.

WES Principal Donna Drizin noted that the outdoor classroom could be used to host shared reading and social studies lessons, as well as science experiments that involve nature and the environment.

Whitemarsh Elementary School officially opened the outdoor classroom at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on October 30.

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Making a Difference: Whitemarsh Elementary School Outdoor Classroom
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