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School dedicates outdoor classroom

July 9, 2017
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

SHERMAN - Sherman Central School board of education members, PTO, staff, and several teachers gathered on the front lawn June 19 to officially dedicate the district's outdoor classroom.

Sherman Superintendent Michael Ginestre welcomed those present. "We are so excited that you could be here to officially open this beautiful space and help us celebrate the fact that it will be here for years to come not only for our students to enjoy, but our community as well," he said.

The space expands the traditional idea of a classroom, Ginestre said. "We believe that every single inch of the Sherman campus should be conducive to learning."

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Photo by David Prenatt
Sherman Central School District Superintendent Michael Ginestre addresses faculty, staff and Parent Teacher Organization members at the dedication of the school’s outdoor classroom.

Ginestre noted that, even though this was the official dedication, the outdoor classroom has already been used extensively. "It's been used for traditional classes as well as to present projects. It's been used as a gathering place for community groups," he said. "We are even OK with students hanging out here after hours to meet with their friends."

Ginestre said that it was facilities director Jared Oehlbeck who approached him a few years ago with the idea for an outdoor classroom. "When Mr. Oehlbeck had the idea for an outdoor classroom, there were certainly a million other projects we could take on. But the idea to use all parts of our campus to learn had to be explored."

Ginestre said the idea main hurdle was financing. "After years of thinking about designs, scoping our locations, thinking about uses, the next inevitable question was raised - how to pay for it?," he said.

The answer came from Sherman's Parent-Teacher Organization.

"We approached the PTO last year with the idea and without hesitation, the approved to provide the funding," he said.

PTO President Barb Cooper said the creation of the classroom helped bring the school community together. "I'm really excited about what's has been done," she said. "It's been wonderful to see how the students and the teachers and everyone came together."

Oehlbeck designed the classroom himself, Ginestre said. He obtained the concrete and the workers to build it. Oehlbeck also engaged Sherman employees Joe Makovich and Ray Spacht, who helped with the construction.

"He gave Ray and Joe big time responsibility," Ginestre said. "Joe in fact built the benches and the podium."

Ginestre said the reaction to the outdoor classroom has been overwhelmingly positive. "We couldn't be more proud of how it turned out," he said. "It could not have come out more beautiful. The kids love it, the teachers love it."



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