In this long, long school year full of challenges, what I was looking forward to most was teaching this group of students at Centaurus High School. I saw the class list at the beginning of the school year and recognized some amazing returning students and a class that was well-balanced between English language learners and native speakers and upper and lower classmen. But best of all, this class would be IN PERSON! Knowing that this group would be exceptional, but also realizing that students would be readjusting to in-person learning, I planned some special things for them.
We started off getting to know each other by doing hands-on group projects like building a quinzhee, then as soon as the weather cleared we began building an outdoor classroom for Centaurus. We worked together to build chairs and working side-by-side we got to know each other naturally and bond as a group. Working with our hands and making something of real value, it didn’t matter if we couldn’t speak the same language; we could all contribute equally.
The chairs took a long time to construct: sawing, drilling, sanding, staining. In between building times and on inclement weather days we learned about environmental issues including climate change, local food, and pollinators. Each class started with a ridiculous question of the day like, “If you had a tail, what kind would you have?” or “Is a hotdog a sandwich?” Not only did everyone’s language skills improve, we had lots of laughs.
The class’ Action Project was planting a garden in the outdoor classroom. We spend several days weeding the area and planting herbs and perennial plants to make the classroom inviting to humans and wildlife alike. Some students even made portable self-watering garden boxes they could take home. We ended the semester with a class spent enjoying our new space, playing campfire games and roasting marshmallows around a mini campfire in our new outdoor classroom. For me, the icing on the cake was when other teachers sent us pictures of their classes enjoying the new outdoor space. The eighth CHS CAP Class truly made a difference in their community.
Written by CHS CAP Instructor Erin Angel
See more photos from the course here!
CAP at Centaurus High School is made possible in part by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) through the Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza program. Click here to learn more!