On May 23, Lower School students welcomed donors, key vendors, and Shore families and friends passionate about outdoor education to the opening of Shore's two new outdoor learning spaces. The invited guests had generously supported the realization of a large learning garden and smaller "Secret Garden" for Shore's youngest students through gifts, donated labor, professional services, and, above all, unflagging commitment to an expanded vision for learning outdoors at Shore. Some of those supporters at the opening events had been involved in the projects since April 2017, when Shore parents at that year's Spring Benefit heard about the school's plans to develop spaces for outdoor education, and pledged
more than $90,000 to help fund the initiative. Additional donations followed throughout the year, and along with continued support from engaged and dedicated Shore families, they enabled the design and creation of two beautiful new focal points for campus.
As guests entered the completed learning spaces on a bright May morning more than a year after the initiative was first launched, they were pleased to meet students and teachers prepared to show them how their contributions were already paying dividends in the form of thriving plants and vegetables, an enhanced science curriculum, and Pre-K play fueled by a bubbling brook and life-size fairy house. In the large learning garden adjacent to the Upper School, fourth graders helped the visitors plant new seedlings next to already growing plants and vegetables; some of these were destined for the science classroom, while others would soon appear in the salad bar in Shore's Dining Hall. Earlier, in the Trustey Family Theatre, the fourth grade garden "docents" had given a video presentation in which they described some of their discoveries in the garden throughout the school year.
When guests made their way from the learning garden to the "secret" smaller garden in the Lower School courtyard near first grade classrooms and the Pre-K spaces, they found Pre-K 1 students in an elaborate mud kitchen eager to distribute homemade cookies they had created with Chef Scott Flanagan. Refreshments in hand, adult visitors were led on a tour of the whimsical discovery space by the students, who over the course of the spring had quickly made the flowing "stream," large sand pit, and fairy house daily destinations for creativity and imagination.
These two additions to Shore's campus represent the beginning of a renewed emphasis on outdoor and experiential education at Shore, complementing existing hallmarks such as overnight wilderness trips and service learning. As Head of School Clair Ward told guests, "These wonderful new spaces have already become valuable assets for science study, English and history discussion, and exploration and discovery in our earliest grades. We can't wait to show you how the outdoors becomes even further integrated into the curriculum in the years to come. Thank you."