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Lakeville South Seniors Partner with Local Businesses to Build Outdoor Classroom at Lakeview Elementary

June 16, 2021

Students digging holes outside for benchesDuring the final days of their senior year, Lakeville South High School (LSHS) students collaborated with local businesses and organizations on their capstone projects. 

Moira Croghan and Raelyn Costley decided to build an outdoor classroom at Lakeview Elementary School (LVE). With Croghan’s interest in engineering and Costley’s interest in environmental policy, the two made a great pair for this type of project. 

“The goal was to create a space outdoors where kids can get both fresh air and education,” said Croghan. 

To raise funds for this project, Croghan and Costley worked with the Lakeview Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) as well as a fellow capstone student, Mary Ricklick.Blue t-shirt with tree graphic and sponsor logos Ricklick’s project worked hand-in-hand with the outdoor classroom, as it involved designing and selling t-shirts to raise money for building supplies and materials. Ricklick was able to get three community sponsors for the t-shirts to make them 100 percent profitable--Advanced Communications, Lakeview Bank and Dakota Electric. More than 85 t-shirts were sold resulting in a profit of $1,500. 

Before they could get started on the actual building process, Croghan and Costley had to evaluate the grounds for the best spot with minimal flooding and optimal shade, research and create a design to work off of, meet with the Lakeville City Council to discuss environmental impacts and do dig-checks with Lakeville Area Schools. Once planning and preparation were completed and all materials arrived, they spent several days building and installing the benches with help from family, friends and teachers. They even invited LVE students to take part in the fun by painting the whiteboard cabinet. 

Croghan and Costley learned how important time management and communication are from unexpected issues encountered during this project. They had to design and redesign the benches and outdoor area, reconfigure their budget due to a lumber shortage and be flexible with their timeline. As they navigated through these challenges, Croghan and Costley appreciated the help and support of the Lakeview PTO and principal, Pete Otterson, as well as the LSHS STEM teacher, Daniel RawleyOutdoor classroom with wooden benches and a whiteboard cabinet

“The level of coordination from securing the funding and getting the proper account codes, to facilities helping clear the area and move the benches Moira and Raelyn did a great job communicating. The kids are drawn to these projects where they get to go back and give something back to the community and schools they went to,” Rawley said. 

In the end, they created a space that LVE students can enjoy for years to come, including 12 wooden benches, a whiteboard cabinet, beautiful hostas planted throughout and a handicap-accessible path. Croghan and Rawley said they are thankful for the support from their mentors, teachers, the PTO, fellow students, family, Mary Rickley and Lakeville community businesses. Having both attended LVE in their earlier years, they loved giving back to a place they cherish. Students posing in outdoor classroom with shovels

“I was a Lakeview kid myself and would have loved to have a space like this when I was a student,” said Croghan.

Lakeville Area Schools and STEM teachers look forward to working with incoming seniors and community members on capstone projects to come.