Oxford Elementary School third-graders, from left, Walker St. Ours, Fantasia Brochu and Liam Prio documented their school’s ‘pavilion raising’ for the Advertiser Democrat. Supplied photo

OXFORD — Maine School Administrative District 17 continues to demonstrate its commitment as Maine’s leading model for incorporating outdoor education into its curriculum.

This strategy was unrolled back in 2021 by the district’s outdoor education coach Sarah Timm and Agnes Gray Elementary School’s former principal, Beth Clarke.

Using a Rethinking Remote Education Ventures (RREV) and more recently Federal American Rescue Plan grants, district administration is executing equitable outdoor learning projects at all its elementary schools, starting with pavilions being erected.

“These pavilions will support outdoor learning at each school,” Superintendent Heather Manchester explained in her report to school board directors back in February. “The goal is for each school to have an outdoor learning classroom, a school garden, and a trail.”

At Norway’s Guy E. Rowe Elementary and Paris Elementary schools the pavilions were built during the winter months.

At Oxford Elementary School, the student pavilion was delivered and constructed in May.


“Oxford Elementary students had an exciting Monday morning diversion May 13,” Timm wrote to the Advertiser Democrat. “A crew from Pennsylvania arrived to assemble the pavilion built for their school by Lancaster County Backyard. Students watched progress from their classroom windows and from a safe distance outside as the crew installed the timber frame structure in just a day.

“Pavilions like this one are going up around the district, funded with federal ARP and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grants. These projects are in response to a priority for outdoor learning expressed by our community and will be used by all grade levels across the district for academic lessons as well as breaks, meals, and school gatherings. Completed sitework and furniture will be happening throughout the spring and summer so that they’re ready for use as soon as possible throughout the Oxford Hills.”

Third grade reporters Fantasia Brochu, Walker St. Ours and Liam Prio were on the scene chronicling the project as their pavilion went up.

May 13
“Three construction workers are working outside at Oxford Elementary School. They are building our outdoor classroom. When we went outside, we saw tire tracks.

“They led to a black and red [construction] crane. The crane was lifting the roof pieces. One person drove the crane, one was climbing the ladder, and one was hammering. Two roof pieces are on the posts and one is still on the ground. We will check tomorrow to see if our classroom is done!”

May 14
”Today we checked on the outdoor classroom again and it’s almost ready. We learned that the outdoor classroom is called a pavilion. A pavilion protects the people inside of it when it rains. Right now there are holes in the ground under the pavilion. They will be filled with stone dust later on.


“We saw a can of yellow stain that they used to make the building look glossy and nice. We also saw the pegs that were hammered into the wood, like nails, to keep the building together so it doesn’t collapse.

“The pavilion is looking great and we love it. We hope we can use it to learn more about nature and all kinds of things.”

OES’ frame and roof were in place quickly, but the kids’ use of it had not really launched by the time school was dismissed for the summer, as furnishings were not delivered by then.

When school starts again in September Liam Prio already knows what to expect, from the outdoor education he and his classes they have experienced up until now.

“I can focus better outside,” he told the Advertiser Democrat. “It’s a good thing! We have more opportunities to go outside.”

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