OPINION BY KATIE ALLEN
As big of a school that Wadsworth High School is, it seems like there should be a space for outdoor learning or an outdoor lunch area. Even at the middle school during warm weather students are given the opportunity to eat lunch in the courtyard. While the layout of the high school doesn’t leave much room for an easily accessible space, there is a lot of open space between the extended hallways.
“There’s not an easy way to get into the middle areas in between the long hallways and there’s not really anything right outside since we have a parking lot on both sides,” said Mr. Humrichouser, a history teacher at Wadsworth. “But there’s also the question of who’s going to take care of it by keeping it clean.”
Although the use of an outdoor space could be a distraction to some students, it can also hold benefits for a large majority of students. Outdoor learning can increase academic performance, development in young children, engagement in students, and overall is healthy and fun.
“I think it would be really beneficial for students to go outside to learn, especially in science classes,” said Lauren Anderson, a sophomore at Wadsworth High School. “I definitely think it would help people learn, there could be some distractions for different types of learners, but for most people, it would be beneficial.”
While many teachers take their classes outside for walks around the track or studying outdoor elements, it can sometimes be very unorganized. With a designated area just for outdoor learning, distractions can be limited allowing for students to take in the outdoor environment.
“The times that I’ve taken my class, whether it was for an activity or just taking my academic lab out to just walk around the track, they actually behave surprisingly well,” Humrichouser said. “I think for the most part it wouldn’t be too big of a distraction, but I think if you have multiple classes out there or windows looking out, then it could become very distracting. But if it has its own little space like behind the gym, or off to the side around the track then I don’t think there would be too many distractions.”
Another good use of outdoor space at Wadsworth would be allowing students to enjoy lunch outside. As many students enjoyed lunch in the middle school courtyard, bringing a few benches to an outdoor area would get much use from the students.
“I think maybe if we start something small and then kind of build off it, then I can definitely see it happening. I know I talk to the freshmen I teach most the day and they talk about how at middle school they liked going outside and just standing there,” Humrichouser said. “So I think if you incorporate maybe once a month or every other Friday if they want to, they can have lunch outside, I think kids would respond well to that.”
Although for a couple days in the spring last year, students were allowed to eat lunch outside in the little area behind the auditorium, that did not seem to last the rest of the year. Unlike at the middle school, where once consistent good weather starts, students can walk through and eat lunch in the courtyard.
“I miss being outside and talking to my friends and the courtyard was nice to walk around in. I made a lot of memories there,” said Anthony Sinato, a sophomore at Wadsworth.
With all the benefits behind outdoor learning, Wadsworth High School should make room for an outdoor space dedicated to bringing fun and healthy engagement to students. The addition of a few benches and tables can make great change at Wadsworth for both students and staff.