Back to the Board­walk

Heights El­e­men­tary ex­pands hands-on learn­ing to the out­doors

Times of the Islands - - Departments - BY MANDY CARTER

The 2017-2018 school year has brought about the com­ple­tion of phase one of the “Slough Restora­tion Project” led by the Heights El­e­men­tary School Par­ent Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion. The project be­gan when the pre­vi­ous prin­ci­pal, Diane Salko, and the PTA board de­cided to use do­na­tions from the an­nual school auction to re­store the board­walk lo­cated on wet­lands par­al­lel to the school.

Many years ago, the board­walk had been used by class­rooms to ob­serve the wet­lands. The PTA is ex­cited about the restora­tion project be­cause pupils are now able to re­turn to the wet­lands area to again ex­pe­ri­ence hands-on learn­ing in the out­doors.

PTA mem­ber Michelle Ma­haney ex­plains, “The idea of restor­ing the slough be­gan al­most four years ago. It has been an on­go­ing process of rais­ing and sav­ing money. It gives the chil­dren a unique op­por­tu­nity to learn about South­west Flor­ida’s ecosys­tem while work­ing to­gether as a com­mu­nity.”

With the sup­port of the cur­rent prin­ci­pal, Doug Palow, and the help of Matt Hor­ton of En­site De­sign, Brent Stokes of Stokes Marine and gen­eral con­trac­tor Steve Shimp, the first sec­tion of the board­walk was com­pleted last fall.

The PTA is again rais­ing funds so the next phase can be­gin. Phase two’s plans in­clude a shell path, planter boxes, 220 ad­di­tional feet of board­walk, an out­door class­room area and an am­phithe­ater.

For more in­for­ma­tion about this on­go­ing project, visit height­spta.org. To find out ways to sup­port the ef­fort, email Height­sElemPTA@gmail.com.

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