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Yorktown Students Learn from Restored Outdoor Classroom

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Yorktown students and teachers had a chance to visit their own outdoor classroom and learn about local vegetation and wildlife at the newly-restored stream and pond in front of the middle and high school Tuesday.

The rehabilitation project of the stream and the pond, a survey of which was first initiated by the county, was headed up by Arris Contracting, Divney Tung Schwalbe (DTS) and KSQ Architects, which sent representatives to the schools Tuesday to explain the project to the students.

Jerry Schwalbe, who managed the different aspects of the project for DTS, said the project reduced flooding by better channeling the water. It also diversified the plant and animals in the area to allow for growth and improved habitats, stopped erosion, and created a more conducive environment for teachers and students to implement outdoor habitats into lessons, he said.

The stream, which is part of the New York City water supply and the Croton River Watershed, lets teachers give students hands-on opportunities to examine the stream, said Megan Kalogris, a science teacher, while at the pond Tuesday.

“It hits home with them and they take what they learn here and apply it to their own backyard,” said Kalogris, a sixth-grade science teacher.

Kalogris and two other science teachers, Darrell Nansen and Liz Kennedy, toured the newly-restored wetlands with the different professionals who worked on the project.

Schwalbe explained that, had the restoration not been completed, the stream would have kept disappearing as it was. He said there also would have been deterioration of the habitat surrounding it. With the restored project, it’s now conducive to growth—both for the natural habitats, and for the curiosity of the students.

“It gives us more areas of access and now we know the different things we can do to help maintain what they’ve done and we can incorporate the students into that,” Kennedy said.

Nansen said the project not only helps the students to learn at the school, but takes the lessons back home as well.

“It all kind of goes full circle literally here at school and in their backyard,” Nansen explained. “We have a unique opportunity to teach them about the water here, and then we have a water treatment plant in town too. They can kind of see the whole cycle the water takes that they drink.”

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