Outdoor Classroom Ribbon Cutting

Students sit on rocks and dig in the dirt.
A teacher kneels down to help students with the marimba
Students stand with their teacher and dig in a planter.
A group of students and principal Gilbert stand behind a sign that says messy materials raea.
Students hold signs that say Messy Materials Area and Dirt Digging area
Students sit on logs and build with blocks
Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ and Siwanoy Principal Susan Gilbert
Students sit around on stone benches .
Two students work on planing
A student stands a table with natural features, such as pine combs.
A student holds a sign that says %22Garden Area%22 while others work on planting
Five students place a marimba with one holding a sign saying %22Music and movement area%22
Students build with outdoor blocks as one sits on a bench that looks like a log.
Students dig in a wooden sandbox


With the snap of a pair of scissors, a long-awaited dream was finally realized on Monday morning May 20 as Siwanoy School’s outdoor classroom was officially opened.

The Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom will not only enhance Siwanoy’s outdoor space, but it will serve as an important vehicle to augment students’ education across a number of disciplines and enable them to connect with nature. Features include a stage, student gathering area, music and movement areas, art panels, raised garden beds for classroom plantings, a butterfly cycle garden and a weather station. The outdoor classroom, which will also be available for use by the community when school is not in session, was made possible through an incredible fundraising effort by the Siwanoy PTA, Siwanoy Outdoor Classroom Committee, Pelham Education Foundation, Pelham Preservation and Garden Society, and a New York State grant.

“It started as a dream, developed into a vision and is now a magnificent reality,” said Susan Gilbert, principal of Siwanoy School. “With the weather becoming nicer each day, I can think of no better time to officially open the outdoor classroom. I am so excited to welcome our students into this wonderful space, where they will learn about the natural environment in which we all live. I can’t thank all of those who made this possible, but I know that their many contributions will serve not just Siwanoy families, but the Pelham community for years to come.”

Ground was officially broken on the $257,000 project, located on a formerly unused grassy area at the back of the school, in December following several years of planning and fundraising. Major donors of the project include Jennifer and Trabue Bland, the DeCicco Family, Fred Alger Management, Inc., in memory of Michael Andrew Tamuccio, the Hade Family/Westchester Collision and Recovery, the McCormick/Pringle Family, Arthur and Catherine Scinta, the Bloise Family, Meridian Risk Management/Joan Solimine Real Estate, the Condon Family and the Gottfried Family.

“The students are excited to learn and explore nature,” said David Sparano, who was head of the Siwanoy PTAs Outdoor Classroom Committee. “Walking in the area after school, one can already see different plant experiments being conducted and see many children digging in the dirt and sand looking for something exciting. As a neighbor of the school, I love hearing the sounds of the marimba and children's excitement echo through the wind."

“I am so proud to help cut the ribbon and officially open this beautiful new space to our students,” said Dr. Cheryl Champ, superintendent of schools. “Offering our students experiential learning opportunities is a key part of our District-wide curriculum and this outdoor classroom provides an incredible opportunity to enhance our program and broaden the education we give all of our students. I’m so incredibly thankful for the support and persistence that made this dream a reality.”