Plans are underway to bring an outdoor classroom to Rock Spring Park in Alton.
The initiative, which is a cooperative undertaking led by multiple groups, begun about a year ago as Alton Middle School was approached to take a more active role in using the park for educational purposes.
“This classroom was a key component in our ongoing revitalization of Rock Spring Park, and I can’t thank Calvary Cares and our other partners enough for helping make this project a reality so quickly,” Rock Spring 2020 Chairman Greg Gelzinnis said.
A “barn raising” event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 6, insuring that the classroom will be available for usage once classes start this fall.
“Once I got the green light from Greg and Michael Haynes, Alton Park an Recreation director, it has been all I can do to keep the reins on my guys — they are ready to go,” said Chaplain Marc Lane, Calvary Cares coordinator.
Sig Utgaard, Alton Middle School science teacher, said he was speechless when he visited the classroom site recently.
“To have a facility like this for our students and an endorsement for our faculty that the community cares is going to put a spring in all of our steps this fall,” Utgaard said. “This is just a dream come true — to have something on your wish list actually become a reality — and at a time when budgets everywhere are depleted,it is nothing short of a miracle.”
In addition to the outdoor classroom collaboration, Alton Middle School was a recent recipient of an Illinois American Water Environmental Grant to create a bioswale in the park.
The bioswale installation will be near the outdoor classroom and can be used as a teaching tool for students. Lewis & Clark Community College and the local Sierra Club are partners in this grant and will provide technical assistance and curriculum development.
Anyone who would like to be a part of the Rock Spring 2020 initiative should contact Gelzinnis at 618-465-7764 or make plans to attend Rock Spring 2020 Committee meetings. All are welcome. They take place the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Main Street UMC in Upper Alton.
Anyone who would like to assist with the “barn raising” of the outdoor classroom building on Saturday, Aug. 6, should contact Chaplain Marc Lane at Calvary Baptist Church at 618-462-8816.