In honor of Martin Luther King Day of Service, Troy University’s Office of Civic Engagement, with the help of students and volunteers, took part in projects at Troy Elementary School on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Troy University applied for a grant on behalf of the elementary school and received $1,500 from Youth Service America, a federal agency that commits to expand the impact of youths serving in communities.
Avery Livingston, the coordinator of civic engagement, said that Troy Elementary School has been wanting to have outside classrooms for a long time, and it was about time that the issue be addressed so that the school can make better use of its property.
According to Livingston, the construction project includes leveling the uneven ground, lining the area and clearing out branches and grass.
Volunteers from Troy University and the Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) came to help with the project and will be the main workforce until the project is done in April.
Daniel McCray, a freshman from Demopolis and the leader of the BCM campus involvement, said that the BCM team of about 10 people asked to volunteer with the Civic Engagement office on this project.
“We are helping smooth out the dirt and lay gravel,” McCray said. “We will also be helping lay down cross ties.”
According to McCray, they did this in order to create a solid, flat area for picnic tables where the children can sit and have class outdoors.
“For me, volunteering means sharing the love of Christ to anyone I can in the best way possible,” McCray said. “Whatever I can do to represent Christ well is what I will try to do.”
“I want people to be able to see the love of Jesus in me.”
Livingston said the second classroom is down the nature trail. The trail will get cleared out to become an amphitheater with six large benches and two podiums. The wood lining the path leading to the classroom will be inscribed with quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader.
“Hopefully by April, we will be able to unveil both classrooms with the City Council, the mayor and Troy University,” Livingston said.
Teresa Sims, the principal of Troy Elementary School, said she wants to make sure the children get to enjoy this beautiful resource for educational purposes.
“Possible ways that we can use the outdoor classrooms are unlimited, depending on the imagination of the teachers and students,” Sims said. “They can have writing or art projects, as well as science field trips and physical activities.”
Sims said as an educator she thinks it is important for elementary school pupils to have an outdoor classroom.
“It’s another great avenue of learning, certainly,” said Sims.
“Lots of kids growing nowadays don’t have the chance to see nature. I believe hearing and seeing pictures about decomposition of leaves is much harder than actually seeing the mold and touching the fuzzy leaves, learning that they’re being decomposed for them.”
The children from Troy Elementary School are also helping work on the project. Together, they help collect branches and clean up a part of the nature trail.
Sims said she wanted them to get their hands on the work so that they can see it takes work to get the classrooms done and that the project is theirs.
“They will appreciate these new facilities more if they know they contributed in building it,” Sims said.