MAPLEWOOD, NJ - On Friday, September 16, the Seth Boyden Demonstration School celebrated the grand opening of their Outdoor Learning Center (OLC), a project that took place over many years and was a collaborative effort of many members of the school community and local volunteers.

The grand opening ceremony included school leaders past and present and community leaders from Maplewood and South Orange, including South Orange Village President Sheena Collum, and Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca.

Seth Boyden Principal Damion Frye led off the event, explaining how valuable the Outdoor Learning Center will be for the school community.

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“Learning is messy, teaching is messy, especially with elementary age students,” Frye said. “This gives our kids an opportunity to learn in a space not confined by four walls and a ceiling.”

Tia Swanson, Co-chair of the OLC Committee, talked about the history of the OLC, and thanked all those who had worked on the project over the years, many of whom returned to Seth Boyden for the grand opening, including former Seth Boyden principal Mark Quiles.

“In our daily lives, we don’t often have a chance to change the world and make it a better place,” Swanson said. “But we’ve done that here. We’ve changed the world for every Seth Boyden student.”

Other speakers included Bill Scerbo, the landscape architect who worked on the last phase of the design; and John Ramos, South Orange Maplewood School District Superintendent. 

“What a great example of the power of community,” Ramos said. “What a great example of intergenerational cooperation. And what better place to do it than in this amazing Seth Boyden community?”

Seth Boyden PTA’s Outdoor Learning Center Committee was instrumental in steering the project to completion. In addition to co-chairs Matthias Ebinger and Tia Swanson and PR officer Kevin Kraft, the committee included Caryn Emmons, who managed the finances; Lizete Monteiro, who planned fundraising events; David Anstatt, who helped to manage construction; and Elizabeth Ebinger, who oversaw logistics.