BFA’s New Outdoor Classroom Comes Into Shape


Members of Club Interact, Student Council and NCTC’s Outdoor Technology program put together a bench for the new outdoor classroom. Photo credit: Stephanie Hodgeman

Logan O'Brien, Contributor

Picture this, the connector was just built and it is a nice day to sit outside and catch some fresh air sitting at some picnic tables and hanging with friends. You go and find a picnic table…Wait a minute, there is nowhere to sit outside. 

Club Interact of Bellows Free Academy, along with the help of Northwest Career and Technical Center’s Outdoor Technology program and the Senior Class gift committee, are hoping to change that. 

The Mercury interviewed Stephanie Hodgeman, a guidance counselor at BFA and adviser to Club Interact, to find out more about BFA’s new outdoor classroom and who is behind it. 

The Mercury: Who brought up the idea of having an outdoor classroom?

Hodgeman: “It was completely student-led. Students drew up a proposal and they took it to Chris Mosca [former BFA Principal], and they said at the very same time that you take away this green space [where the connector was placed], we need to dedicate a green space for kids [to eat lunch or hang out after school]. I mean, do you really want to [go] up to a classroom after school? You’d rather go outside.”

The Mercury: What does the outdoor classroom consist of?

Hodgeman: “A grant from Rise Vermont at the hospital [was provided] for construction of the classroom and the foundation. Since prices have gone up for materials, and we had to buy commercial-grade materials to prevent them from being stolen, we ran out of money. That’s when the Senior Class of 2022 donated $700 for the plantings.”

The Mercury also interviewed Lindsay Bernard (‘22) to find out more about the Senior class gift aspect of the outdoor classroom.

The Mercury: What is the Senior class gift, and how is it connected to the outdoor classroom?

Bernard: “When we were choosing a senior gift back in the fall, I remembered Mrs. Hodgeman’s outdoor classroom and how she had run out of grant funding for umbrellas and landscaping. Thus, we made the plan to donate the rest of our senior class student council savings towards the project as a gift at the end of this year. We will be donating around $600-$700. It will likely go to flowers for the area when they are able to plant them. Along with Interact Club, a few of us student council members also helped to assemble some of their outdoor furniture.”

This accomplishment by the Club Interact, Senior class gift committee and NCTC’s Outdoor Technology program could not have been achieved without students voicing what they needed for the school community.