Donation bolsters forest potential

When first-grade teacher Pam West read "A Walk in the Woods" with her students last year, she was puzzled by their response. Many seemed not to understand it.

When first-grade teacher Pam West read "A Walk in the Woods" with her students last year, she was puzzled by their response. Many seemed not to understand it.

"I noticed there were blank stares from some of the students," West wrote in a letter to the Superior School Board. "I then asked how many of them had ever taken a walk in the woods. It saddened me immensely to see only a few of their hands went up."

This year, West had the opportunity to take her students into the environment described in the book.

The Great Lakes Elementary School students spent a day snowshoeing at the school forest in Summit and took part in a scavenger hunt.

The children also drew pictures of what the forest looked like in winter, and West hopes to bring her class back to the school forest in spring to teach them about the seasons.


A large poster from the first-graders hung on the wall during the Superior School Board's regular meeting in March. Decorated with student illustrations, the poster detailed the first-graders' trip to the school forest. The children wrote about the wildlife they saw and the lessons they learned, ending with a note of thanks to the Board for its support of the school forest.

Later in the meeting, the School Board voted to accept a gift of $10,000 from an anonymous donor, to be put toward the school forest program.

"How wonderful that our community is supporting that (program)," said board member Mary Klun.

The recent donation is the second the district has received for the school forest in as many months. At February's regular School Board meeting, a gift of $10,720 from Fred Petroske was accepted for the school forest program.

"At our last school forest committee meeting, we were talking about the smartest way to use the donations," said school forest leader Lori Danz. "At this time, we decided to survey the teachers who use or have used the school forest to get their opinion on what the greatest needs are."

When the school forest planning committee received the first donation from Petroske in February, the group thought it best to place the money in a foundation fund. Now with a second donation of nearly the same amount, Danz and her colleagues are considering improvements to the property.

Over the past two years, the old 1970s dormitories on the school forest property were demolished and replaced by new buildings, and a challenge course was added last summer.

Danz said the committee has tossed around a few ideas, including purchasing equipment like field guides, binoculars, soil study kits and GPS units to provide students with a more in-depth learning experience.


Another idea is to set aside a large portion of the money for a major project sometime in the future.

"An example of this would be something like the challenge course we put in last summer," Danz said.

Whichever route the committee takes, no decision will be made until teachers have offered input, Danz said.

"It is so nice to see the community support," Danz said. "My head is reeling with possibilities for students and other community events."

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