Corporate sponsors help create outdoor classroom at Oak Park Middle School

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - A few weeks ago we told you about a student at Decatur's Oak Park Middle School who started an on-line effort to raise money to buy his school a weather station. Well, State Senator Arthur Orr stepped up to make certain the school reached its goal. And then something else happened.

The back yard at Oak Park Middle School looked more like a construction zone on Wednesday with volunteers, teachers, parents, grandparents and, yes, even the students out here hard at work.

"We are building a corporate neighborhood project with our school, an outdoor classroom, and as you can see we're building lots of different venues here that are going to support the curriculums we teach inside school everyday," explains Leigh Lazenby who teaches math and landscaping at the school.

It includes rain, herb and pollinator gardens, a greenhouse, several raised bed gardens, and yes, a weather station. Two of them, in fact! The students are engaged in the entire project, even helping get the site ready for a sidewalk that will link all of the areas together. This will be the legacy they leave behind at Oak Park.

"Making things level with the shovel so that the people in the wheelchairs can get through and out there," said 7th grader Smith Coon who spent 6th period working on the project Wednesday.

"To measure that rainfall or to see the fish thrive or the turtle thrive in their habitat, for me to be able to beautify our campus by growing our own seedlings into plants and putting them in their designated areas, it's giving the kids practical experience," says Lazenby.

Practical experience unavailable from any textbook, but coming soon to an outdoor classroom at Oak Park Middle School.

General Electric and a number of other corporate sponsors all worked together with the school to make the outdoor classroom a reality.

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