Prospect Heights school dedicates ‘gift’ of outdoor learning space

A new outdoor learning space at MacArthur Middle School in Prospect Heights already has been put to the test by students.

On Thursday, the courtyard was officially dedicated during a ceremony attended by school leaders, public officials, vendors, teachers and students.

Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 Superintendent Don Angelaccio said the project has been in the works for several years and there are lot of people to thank for the “gift.”

Funding for the space came in part from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program, which was part of the 2020 federal coronavirus relief package.

“We looked at some of the safety and mitigation things, the cleaning, ventilation systems. We used money for that. We had some technology upgrades” Angelaccio said. “And then we used a good bulk of our money to transform some of our outdoor spaces into places that kids and teachers would want to come to learn.”

The upgrades at MacArthur included adding an outdoor space near the cafeteria entrance and transforming an existing courtyard into the outdoor classroom with multimedia capabilities, a sensory path and seating.



Other schools in District 23 received indoor and outdoor improvements as well.

Amy McPartlin, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said District 23 also received a grant from a Des Plaines company that helped with the student-centered outdoor space.

“The district applied for and was awarded a $1,000 Earth Day grant from our friends at Lurvey Home and Garden. Our Structured Adapted Individualized Learning program here at MacArthur Middle School has helped to design our sensory path, butterfly garden and garden boxes that have been installed over the summer,” McPartlin said.

“Coupled with outdoor classroom area, relaxing swings and butterfly garden, we’re thrilled to literally breathe new wonderful life into this central courtyard.”


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