With statewide budget cuts forcing schools to trim certain extracurricular activities—parents and teachers from Church Street School hatched a plan for students to continue to go on field trips without even leaving the school.
On Monday, the school unveiled a butterfly pavilion as the latest addition to its courtyard, which already features raised garden beds, bird feeders and native plants. Classes have been anticipating the release of their butterflies into the pavilion while waiting for them to hatch from their chrysalises.
"Sometimes we've had cuts in funding for field trips and things like that, so we're trying to provide experiences for them here,” said Church Street Principal Darrell Stinchcomb. “(The Garden Committee) came up with the concept and then the parents got on board, and actually a parent built this."
Mom Jayne Ahearn fashioned the butterfly pavilion out of batting cage and sewed more than one hundred yards of mosquito netting to create the dome. In addition to the voluntary labor, the PTA also gathered the money for the pavilion through fundraisers.
“The PTA does all kinds of fundraisers each year, and then we kind of do cool things in the school,” said PTA Mom Bernadette Leccese. "Sometimes we buy outdoor equipment; sometimes we'll buy extra tables if they're needed. But this was something that the Garden Committee was hoping to pull together for a number of years now.”
Letting no opportunity go to waste, the school has even made the walk to the pavilion a learning experience for the students. Seventeen pages of a book were enlarged and placed at separate stations throughout the school. The “Story Stop” stations, which currently features an educational story about butterflies, begins at the main entrance of the school and ends at the courtyard.
While the pavilion appears to be a success with the students, the teachers admitted it was just as much of a learning experience for them as it was for the children.
"We're learning as we're going,” said Debra Benge, kindergarten teacher and Garden Committee coordinator. “We've never done anything like it, at all.”
With the current school year nearing its end, the committee is already coming up with plans to improve upon the idea next year. According to Benge, the plan is to decorate the pavilion, which is already lined with food, butterfly bushes and butterfly-friendly plants, and to also have it moved to grassier area.