Ever since the Albert Stella Memorial Arena was torn down last fall, a 2.4-acre lot behind Isabelle Sellon School in Blairmore has sat unused.
Alana Paterson’s Grade 6 class wants to change that.
A group of students accompanied by their teacher attended the June 7 Crowsnest Pass council meeting as a delegation and requested that the municipality donate a portion of the lot — between 0.4 and 0.6 acres — to Livingstone Range School Division so the school can develop a community outdoor learning space.
“This is important to us because our goal is to be inclusive towards the community, instead of exclusive,” said C.J. Fisher, one of the student presenters.
“As students we want to encourage the community to participate and interact with our creations and our learning. We want to bring education back into the neighbourhood.”
Among the ideas the class suggested were a greenhouse, an archery range, an astronomy observatory, a basketball court that would double as an outdoor rink in the winter, and a bike-wash station that would operate in collaboration with UROC.
The students emphasized that developing the space for outdoor learning would not only help enrich curriculum requirements but also provide a space to enrich the community.
“We want to connect place-based learning and community development to create a learning laboratory for local students of ISS and CCHS,” said Madison Burton.
“We think this land could be used to unite school and community to provide a space to learn, grow and be well together.”
Overall, council was impressed with the students’ presentation and agreed the land behind the school had potential that hadn’t yet been explored.
“It’s refreshing to see vision like this,” said Coun. Glen Girhiny. “That is an area of town that we have to talk about, sooner than later. We’ll be getting back to you and maybe we’ll be asking you for other ideas too.”
“There are some ideas here that we might not have thought of previously for using the land, so that’s great that you would contribute,” added Coun. Vicki Kubik.
“I really believe in community engagement, so to see a group of students who are engaged in that process at school and then coming to council with ideas is really a big step forward.”
The students’ proposal was a good one and would be a discussion item at a council meeting in the near future, said Mayor Blair Painter.
“We’ll be having some chats with administration and more discussion on this topic and we’ll be back to you soon,” he said.
The next council meeting is Tuesday, June 21, 7 p.m. in council chambers.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze