The space where the new outdoor classroom is located will also be used for the celebration of Mass, weather permitting.
The space where the new outdoor classroom is located will also be used for the celebration of Mass, weather permitting.

This school year, Our Lady of Good Counsel School added a new classroom space like no other on its campus: one without walls, a roof or a floor.

The Moorestown Catholic grammar school now contains an Outdoor Classroom where teachers will be able to take advantage of the natural setting to conduct unique learning in a “weather permitting” environment.

Inspired by a similar outdoor classroom at St. Benedict School, Holmdel, Our Lady of Good Counsel pastor, Father James J. Grogan, saw the value of creating such a learning environment on an unused space, measuring about 60 ft. by 100 ft., acquired by OLGC few years ago. Father Grogan consulted with numerous parish members and organizations on the project, including the parish Garden Committee, the local Knights of Columbus council, and parishioner Xavier Ladik, who selected the classroom as his Eagle Scout project. The school’s new school principal, Cynthia Smith, and new vice principal, Brian Kasilowski, also saw the potential of the outdoors space.

Many parishioners and their businesses eagerly contributed to the project over the next two months, including Paul’s Tree Service, R. Gregorio Landscaping, and Young’s Landscaping, each of whom donated materials or services to help move the project so quickly from a concept to a reality.

OLGC School teachers have been busy using the space in creative ways. First grade classes met on the last day of the first week of school to “celebrate” the new school year, as they had a story time with their teachers. The fifth-grade class visited the outdoor space just to “check it out,” and ended up having a class on questions about our faith with their pastor. Over the next weeks and into the springtime, the space will be utilized for reading and language arts classes, religion classes, and, of course, some science lessons out in the natural setting.

In addition to use as the Outdoor Classroom, the space will enable the parish to celebrate occasional outdoor liturgies, weather permitting. With the growing crowds returning as the Covid impact winds down, the parish will begin offering a Mass for families with small children outdoors on the first Sunday of each month. Father Martin O’Reilly, Burlington County Episcopal Vicar, plans to bless the sacred space at the 10 a.m. Mass on Oct. 2.