Grand Opening of Schoolyard Habitat
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Copperwood Elementary School, in the Peoria Unified School District, will be hosting a grand opening for the Schoolyard Habitat for the Environmental Education Outdoor Classroom and Tortoise Habitat at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, 2017 – 11232 N. 65 Avenue, Glendale. The habitat was developed to provide students with opportunities to learn about nature and wildlife through outdoor hands-on experiences. The project was started by Janet Sharkey, a Copperwood parent who has been volunteering for the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) since 2005. It was through Sharkey’s creative designs and a grant provided by Partners for Fish and Wildlife that her ideas were brought to life in Phase One of the project. Phase One included native trees and plants, a pond, an irrigation system, and customized pavers and stepping stones.
In 2013, Copperwood PTSA and Peoria Unified received an additional grant from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) Heritage Fund to develop Phase Two, which includes an environmental education outdoor classroom and a desert tortoise habitat. With in-kind donations and support from several community partners and volunteers, the site was completed in December of 2016. Phase Two also includes benches, a teacher table, an arbor, a dual irrigation system, a weather station, native trees and plants, and a tortoise enclosure with custom walls and a burrow which houses Copperwood’s newly adopted Sonoran Desert tortoise, Heritage “Harry”.
Copperwood students now have opportunities to explore nature and perform inquiries in the garden at school. Dr. Pamela Marshall, a Copperwood parent and habitat Environmental Education Outreach Director, will support the project by providing environmental education practices for teachers and students to learn about sustainability and conservation in a natural setting. Once fully implemented, the site will also serve as a model for other schools seeking to integrate environmental education.
Peoria Unified School District, which is located in the Northwest Valley, boasts a 93 percent high school graduation rate. It is one of the largest unified school districts in Arizona and prides itself on excelling schools, award-winning teachers, high test scores, specialized signature programs and championship sports programs. The Vision of the Peoria Unified School District is “Every student, every day, prepared to shape tomorrow.”
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