This year, Peaster High School’s National Honor Society has decided to spruce up the outdoor classroom for their annual service project.

The outdoor classroom is near the high school and is set up with picnic tables among a grove of trees, National Honor Society Sponsor Megg Galloway said. The classroom has been under the wing of other student groups the last two years. Currently, NHS is maintaining the classroom, caring for the plants and adding to it, if needed.

The kids met on a Saturday to lay down mulch and picked weeds at the outdoor classroom, Galloway said. They still hope to paint the picnic tables and then put out bird feeders in the spring.

“It will always be a work in progress,” Galloway said.

One of the inscribed stones by the outdoor classroom is in memory of Elizabeth Calhoun, a PHS teacher who died of cancer earlier this year, Galloway said. The stone was placed last spring, courtesy of the senior class.

Calhoun supported the outdoor classroom, and her daughter even designed it, Galloway said.

“She loved the outdoors,” Galloway said. “And it was a good sense of place where kids pass by every day, and they remember her and how great a teacher she was and the gift that her daughter gave to us through the design of the outdoor classroom.”

Because the outdoor classroom is dedicated to Calhoun, all NHS members wanted to pitch in to keep it nice, PHS senior Ashtyn Sweatt said. Sweatt called Calhoun an “awesome lady” and one of her favorite teachers.

“She really connected with her students,” Sweatt said. “She had a passion for chemistry and making sure that we learned, of course, the material, but she did it in a fun way. Her personality was so upbeat, and she rarely had a bad day.”

Some teachers will teach their classes in the outdoor classroom on a nice day, and it is also used for end-of-the-year-banquets, Galloway said. The classroom can also be a space for students to eat lunch.

As a teacher, Galloway said the outdoor classroom is beneficial to students.

“It’s a very nice environment that makes it easier for kids to focus, to share, and they look forward to it,” Galloway said. “It’s a change of getting out of the dreary classroom.”

Sweatt recalled having classes in the outdoor classroom for reading and discussions.

“It really is something that I think every school should have because it definitely kind of gets you outside of the school element,” Sweatt said. “It’s definitely something that I’m glad that Peaster has done, and I’m glad that we have dedicated it to Ms. Calhoun.” 

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