BAY VILLAGE

The pink stakes along the new outdoor classroom at Normandy Elementary outline a small garden full of native plants that will attract butterflies in the spring once they bloom again. For now, the outdoor classroom is a refuge under massive trees for students.

Nicholas Lucak, 15, began his Eagle Scout project with an idea for creating an outdoor garden space as a butterfly way station before expanding on his idea and creating an outdoor classroom.

Nicholas was a student at Normandy and is now a sophomore at Bay High School. He participates in cross country and band on top of his involvement with scouts.

“What we did was we took an area of land that the school wasn't using and made it into an outdoor learning space for kids to come out and enjoy because in the past couple years obviously it's been a bit harder to learn inside,” Nicholas said.

The materials and work were donated by Home Depot and other local businesses such as Erie Shore Gardens, which provided the plants.

The outdoor space has gravel underneath 10 logs, spaced out with eight of them arranged in rows with two farther out for teachers.

“With COVID, outdoor learning spaces are really important for us because it gives us a new and different flexibility to help kids,” said Normandy Principal Dan Sebring. “It gives them a mask break out here, so the kids love coming out here with their teachers.”

The project turned out better than Nicholas had hoped with the garden border coming as a later idea, making the area more pronounced. He said he originally planned for a garden before he thought of expanding it into the classroom.

Nicholas approached Sebring, who remembers him as a second-grader, last winter about the project itself and worked with other scouts to bring it to fruition.

Beyond the school’s uses for the classroom, community members have used the area as a stopping point to read books while walking along the trail behind Normandy.

“It's projects like this that really define what a village as a community is all about,” Sebring said. “We're all about our schools and we're all about giving opportunities to kids to make the community better and make the schools better.”

Contact this reporter at mmacarthur@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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