Community rallies for Killaloe Public School outdoor classroom


 Residents encouraged to vote everyday at


Children voice their input into the design of the outdoor classroom after the assembly on April 11. Pictured: Connor Sweeney, Samson Larmet, Tony Petroskie, Dana Praks, Hayley Coulas, Clara Sernoskie, River Marleau, David Shteyngart, Relic Boyle, Bugatti Brohart, Samantha Sleaford, Andrew Jeffrey, Callie Hartwig and Matthew Sullivan.
Photo Christine Hudder


Staff Reporter

– We will get this outdoor classroom, whatever it takes.

That was the message students at Killaloe Public School proclaimed at a special assembly on the morning of April 11. Killaloe-Hagarty-Richards Mayor Janice Visneskie and Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke M.P.P. John Yakabuski were both in attendance.

Recently, the school discovered it was one of 10 schools across Canada that made the shortlist for Majesta’s Trees of Knowledge competition.

If KPS gets enough votes from people all across the region, it will win $20,000 towards an outdoor classroom, which teaches children about nature and gives children an opportunity to learn outdoors. With only 110 students at KPS, it has one of the smallest school populations out of its competition.

Lyndsey Mask helped with the lengthy application process and said there are many benefits to an outdoor classroom.

“With all of the technology there is these days, there is a lot of high energy and a lot of fast-paced things going on, so being outside and learning about the outdoors, it really helps them to de-stress and refocus,” Mask said.

She added it gives students the chance to be environmental champions.

“They could take care of the land and feel a part of their surroundings. That would be something that I think would be healthy for them and would get them involved physically,” she said.

As part of the application process, KPS has to submit a design for an outdoor classroom. With the help from Grant Dobson from Connaught Nursery, the school came up with a unique design that features a prominent cedar stump seating area in an amphitheatre style.

The classroom would also have a boulder garden that would be used for outdoor classrooms and other activities. The plan includes planting 28 new species of plants and trees in the school yard. Eventually, KPS plans to create a trail linking Hoch Farm and the outdoor classroom.

At the assembly, Mask got children excited by getting them to chant, “We will get this classroom, whatever it takes.”

Mayor Visneskie addressed the crowd by vowing she will go to Renfrew County council and promote the voting process.

“You are putting Killaloe, once again, on the map,” Visneskie said. “So again congratulations, let’s keep going and I am going to promote it throughout the county. You are going to win – whatever it takes.”

M.P.P. Yakabuski took to the stage and congratulated the school for making it this far.

“I’m not surprised that Killaloe is a finalist, because Killaloe has always been a little village that has great spirit,” he said.

KPS is up against nine other finalists, including Brookside Public School in Lucknow, C.E. Broughton Public School in Whitby, Central Elementary School in Swift Current, Ecole Beaubassin in Halifax, Hilson Avenue Public School in Ottawa, Homesteader Elementary School in Edmonton, Pleasantside Elementary School in Port Moody, Sussex Elementary School in Sussex and Thor College in Cookstown.

“I know this kind of spirit is going to be very, very helpful to you in your quest for being the champion of the Majesta contest,” Yakabuski said.“I know small town Ontario can do it.”

Yakabuski said he will even announce in the legislature that Killaloe is in the contest.
“Sometimes I think we get wrongly characterized in rural communities as being takers from the forest, but what we really are and have been for a long time, is great stewards of the forests because this is were we derive a large part of our living,” Yakabuski said.

Story continues in the April 19th issue of The Valley Gazette.