Photo Gallery | Molly Stark students create mosaic tiles for outdoor classroom

BENNINGTON — Every student at the Molly Stark School participated in an art project on Wednesday that will help beautify their new outdoor classrooms.

A group of teachers announced in November that they had developed a plan to turn a wooded lot in the back of the Molly Stark property into several outdoor classrooms, which will feature benches and picnic tables, nature related poems and quotations, a butterfly garden, a fern garden, weather instruments, an art center, and educational posters about maple syrup, Native American tribes who lived in this area, local flora and fauna, and more.


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"The kids are going to love it out here," said fourth grade teacher Susan Page, who is one of the four teachers who has spearheaded this project, along with fourth grade teacher Shari Sargent, fifth grade teacher Mike Mazzola, and kindergarten teacher Natalia Kline, "The classrooms get so got by the end of the year, it will be great to get (the students) outdoors. The kids are so excited. One of them said to me, 'It's the best thing ever!'"

On Wednesday, students worked on created mosaics that will be posted throughout the trail system. Every student in the school drew a picture, then Page spent Mother's Day weekend laboriously transcribing those images onto posts. Then, students used colored aquarium gravel to create the mosaics over their drawings. "It's a tremendous amount of work," said Page, "but the end project is going to be so worth it."

"At the beginning of the school year we came up with an idea," she explained to the Bennington School Board in November, "it was to transform a wooded lot that's part of the Molly Stark campus into open classrooms and trails to help educate the children. Currently, we have Project Adventure equipment out there, and it was kind of dangerous, because people weren't trained anymore how to use it, so we wanted to come up with something that would be exciting for the kids to use."

Kindergartners Veda Hoyt, - Rabideau, and Savannah Ruiz add stones to a mosaic for an outdoor garden classroom at the Molly Stark Elementary School.
Kindergartners Veda Hoyt, - Rabideau, and Savannah Ruiz add stones to a mosaic for an outdoor garden classroom at the Molly Stark Elementary School. (Holly Pelczynski — Bennington Banner)

Dave Dense's forestry class from the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center, cleared out the site and made the paths between classrooms, and soon Brian Coon's building trades class will make and install the benches and picnic tables. The project has also received grant support, in the form of the Small and Inspiring Grant from the Vermont Community Fund, as well as generous support from the community. In addition to the work done by the CDC, donations have come from the Catamount Rotary, Bank of Bennington, the Vermont Country Store, Bennington Potters, the Bennington Elks Club, RK Miles, Homestead Landscaping, and the National Education Association.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.