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Hillside gains approval for Environmental Learning Center

If all goes well, students at Hillside Elementary could move some of their lessons outdoors.

Plans are in the works to create an Environmental Learning Center (ELC) at the school. An ELC is exactly what it sounds like -- a center to learn about the environment.

The center, which was approved by the New Richmond School Board last week, will feature an outdoor classroom, solar oven, garden and weather vane.

Lessons from weather to recycling will be taught using the ELC and students will be able to do hands on projects in the garden, said Liz Erickson, a fourth grade teacher at Hillside

The plan is to develop the fenced area south of Hillside into the ELC. The space was originally supposed to house a kindergarten playground.

The ELC will be used by all classes and grade levels at Hillside, Erickson said. Paperjack Elementary also has an ELC.

Concrete benches or seats will be used for students seating when the ELC is in use.

There are many things students can gain from using the ELC, Erickson said. Not only will students be given a new opportunity to learn, but they'll be learning through doing.

Students and staff at Hillside Elementary have been raising money for the ELC by selling T-shirts designed by Ray "Sketch" Gustafson, a cartoonist who used to work for Disney. The shirts feature his artwork which includes a line drawing of the school.

On May 22, Gustafson visited the school and took a tour of the future ELC.

Additional money will come through grants, Erickson said.

If all goes well, the ELC could be open as early as next year.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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