Eddie Tuite, an incoming sixth grader, rolls a stump across a bridge to the one of the outdoor learning spaces being set up at Brunswick’s junior high school. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

With just about a week left before Brunswick students go back to school, activity is ramping up as teachers, students, volunteers and community leaders work to set up outdoor learning spaces. 

The school district is partnering with local organizations like Teens to Trails and the New England Mountain Bike Association to help plan, clear, construct and implement open-air classrooms and gathering spaces in an attempt to reduce the the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Brunswick Junior High School, the oldest school building in the district, needs a little bit of TLC, but teacher Mary Lord said she thinks it also has the most enthusiasm and support for outdoor learning. 

A parent donated several sailboat sails to make sun shades, which is especially helpful in the midst of a tent shortage, though the district was also able to secure a few of those, Lord said. Hancock Lumber donated some at-cost lumber, and Lord’s husband used it to make several handicap-accessible picnic tables, which will be installed soon. Others donated tree stumps for seating, and an old ropes course behind the school is being converted and sectioned off into different “classrooms” repurposing the existing materials. 

The goal is to have 10 outdoor spaces ready to go for the start of school Sept. 14, and Alicia Heyburn, director of Teens to Trails, will work with teachers on how to use them effectively.

Trenton Lagrange (left) and Eddie Tuite, soon to be sixth graders at Brunswick Junior High School, rake out a spot for some new picnic tables. The picnic tables will allow students more opportunities to eat and learn outdoors this year. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

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