Tucked away in the woods near and Bruce Park is a new outdoor classroom with living examples of flora, fauna and fossil.
Yes, fossil. For perhaps the most interesting part of the trail is the dinosaur footprint fossil; a mysterious donation many years ago to the school district that for too long sat unnoticed.
Now it has a home in the 300 foot half-circle trail created by Eagle Scout Tom Currier and the district’s science coordinator, Dr. Melissa Hickey. The trail incorporates elementary curriculum across subjects and provides a constant working classroom for Spaulding students and staff.
“Spaulding has 40 classrooms and this is Room 41,” said Hickey during Monday afternoon’s official ribbon cutting.
Hickey said she asked Principal Angie Roman last year about her dreams for the school and the science curriculum.
“Her eyes got all glittery and she said: ‘I want the kids to use the school grounds,’” Hickey explained.
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Thanks to several grants and local donations, Hickey and Currier spent months clearing trees and brush and working with Jack Muska at the town’s . Mulch from the many trees cleared during the fall snowstorm form the path.
Currier spent many more hours designing the signage and exhibits for the trail, a project, he said, that became a family affair with his sisters and parents helping.
“I’m really proud,” said mom Gail. “He worked really hard and this was definitely a big project.”
“His maturity and his love for nature and his community really came out,” said Hickey.
Several other teachers including Joellen Woodworth, Shannon Insero and Leslie Pickman spent hours outside the school day designing room 41.
“I’ve taken students outside for years, and this is a dream come true,” said Woodworth.
“It’s nice to see our money go to a place that will really use it,” said Lori Sych, board member for Suffield Foundation For Excellent Schools, which granted $14,000 toward the project. The Friends of Suffield and the Suffield Fireman's Association also donated monies to the project.
Hickey said she recently presented the outdoor classroom concept to the Connecticut Outdoor Education Association.
“The whole state of Connecticut is jealous of what we did here in the community,” she said.