Kenwood fifth graders immersed in the great outdoors


In late February, Kenwood fifth graders spent four days and three nights at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center near Lanesboro, MN. Darwin Lee, one of Kenwood’s two fifth grade teachers, brought the trip to the school’s curriculum when he joined the staff last year. This popular trip has already become an academic highlight for Kenwood’s 5th graders.

Lee, who taught at Kenny Elementary School in southwest Minneapolis for many years, has been taking fifth graders to Eagle Bluff, an accredited, non-profit, environmental education center, for 15 years. “I’ve been a huge fan of Eagle Bluff and what they do since they began years ago. The programming and staff are just excellent.” The students were immersed in six hours of classes a day, consisting of environmental science, outdoor skills, challenge skills, and cultural programming. Lee added, “The staff at Eagle Bluff keeps the kids busy and engaged; plus the accommodations are comfortable and the food is good. This can be a huge plus for the kids.” Eagle Bluff’s mission is to foster environmental awareness, responsibility and literacy, and to promote respect and personal responsibility through teamwork and problem solving.  

Fifth grader and Kenwood resident Lucie Allen highly recommends the trip, reporting that it was “really, really fun.” She especially liked the high ropes course and the pioneer life class.  

ECCO resident and chaperone Caroline Vaaler said the trip was a great experience for the kids. “They are pushed in so many ways during this experience. They are learning about science and the outdoor world, but also about how to work and live together.”

Principal Cheryl Martin said, “Kenwood is excited to have the Eagle Bluff trip as part of our 5th grade curriculum. This is a very special opportunity for our students and the 4th graders are already excited about their chance to go next year.”

For the eighth year in a row, the Kenwood School community has successfully raised enough funds to offer only full day Kindergarten for the 2012-2013 school year. Because of the added learning, social, and playtime a full day schedule allows, the community has made funding for full day Kindergarten a priority. The School District provides Kenwood with only one full day Kindergarten classroom so the community raises funds to “buy up” the two remaining classes.  

Campaign co-chair and Kenwood resident Stephanie Bell said, “We feel that offering all incoming Kindergarteners the same opportunity to benefit from Kenwood’s well-rounded curriculum is important. Without a full day schedule, the literacy and math work time would suffer, and the children wouldn’t benefit from the school’s arts residencies, specialist teachers such as music, art, and physical education, or participate in play time and recess.”

Nicole Valentine is a parent of Kenwood students.