COVID-Enabled Outdoor Classroom Earns Saline Student Eagle Scout Rank
SALINE, MI – Shane Pitcher noticed that the exterior patio between two exterior walls on the south side of Saline High School was not in use and ultimately fulfilled the vision for his Eagle Scout project.
Pitcher, a sophomore at Saline High, had gone through several different project ideas that were not going to work logistically before seeing the perfect opportunity to transform the patio into an outdoor classroom.
After 120 hours of campaigning and fundraising for the project, Pitcher – with the help of fellow Scouts and family members – built the facility which includes 15 desks and 30 benches.
With class sizes currently limited due to blended learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pitcher envisions a time when teachers can take their classes outside and benefit from this project.
“I thought it would be cool, especially because it’s hard to learn indoors because of COVID,” Pitcher said. “I think it will make learning easier, with a better distribution. I think in the future it can be used in the fall and spring just to avoid being inside the classroom.
Pitcher thanks the Boy Scouts for allowing him to put together a project like the Outdoor Classroom. He joined the Cub Scouts as a second pupil because his other friends did and because his father was also a Boy Scout.
Now a member of Ann Arbor Troop 27, Pitcher said he had benefited from many life and leadership lessons as a Boy Scout, earning Senior Patrol Leader status for the Troop last year before becoming a Patrol Leader. assistant this year.
“I’ve had a ton of different leadership experiences, but this was by far the biggest and most difficult,” Pitcher said of the project.
The bench and desk project was estimated to cost around $ 1,800, so Pitcher first set up and widely promoted a GoFundMe that raised $ 1,500.
He later organized a can tour of local neighborhoods to raise the remaining funds for the project which brought in $ 1,100 from the community.
“It has gone more successfully than I could have ever imagined,” PItcher said. “We took back cans for three consecutive weeks.”
However, the realization of the project was not without challenges. After apparently ordering most of the lumber, Pitcher said a company misplaced his order, causing him to frantically tinker with all the lumber needed three days before construction began.
There was also a contact tracing issue within his family during the second weekend of the project when they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, leading to quarantine of several people for 10 days, said Pitcher.
Despite these challenges, Pitcher credits the help he received from many of his Boy Scout troop – current and former – as well as a family friend for helping him bring the project to fruition. On the busiest day of construction, Pitcher said 16 people were working on the project.
Saline High Manager Dave Raft and Assistant Manager Kirk Evenson were on board the Pitcher Project when he introduced it to them in September. Evenson thanked Pitcher for his persistence in completing it despite the obstacles he and his team faced.
“He never backed down,” Evenson said. “Shane persevered and completed his project through quarantine, distance learning and shutdown, and he did so following all of the many guidelines from the Department of Health and CDC. which were submitted to him. “
Evenson describes Pitcher as a motivated and hardworking student, attributing to him both his organizational skills in developing the project and his commitment to making the world around him a better place.
“After leaving the halls of Saline High School, there is no doubt that Shane will be successful in all of his goals and dreams,” Evenson said. “He has a work ethic coupled with great organizational skills that will bode well for him after graduation and beyond.
The project was completed in mid-January and a handful of teachers have already said they will use the outdoor classroom once the weather becomes pleasant enough for outdoor lessons, Pitcher said.
“A few of my teachers have told me that they plan to use it on days when they don’t need to be on Zoom,” he said. “Especially this year, when it’s so difficult to learn in person, the kids are either 100% home or two days a week. They told me they really liked the idea.