Steamboat high school students, teachers working on outdoor classroom |

Steamboat high school students, teachers working on outdoor classroom

Steamboat Springs High School student Jacob Taulman uses a small tractor while working on a new outdoor stage and learning area behind the Steamboat Springs High School. Students are helping build the new structure, which will replace an older stage that is no longer usable.
John F. Russell

— Steamboat Springs High School construction students have broken ground on a new outdoor classroom to replace a defunct structure that was used by classes in the past.

The new outdoor classroom is being funded through a $7,100 grant from the Education Fund awarded in December, $3,000 from the Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Charitable Trust and donations or in-kind help from Jake’s Drafting, Alpine Lumber, AllTerrain Excavating and the Steamboat Springs Arts Council.

Weather has slowed the project, but students this week are working on excavation and drilling holes for piers and are hoping to have concrete poured for the classroom stage by Friday.

“It’s a neat project, the kids are really having fun with it,” said Kip Rillos, a Steamboat Springs High School business and construction teacher who is helping guide the project, along with drama teacher Jamie Oberhansly, art instructor Lisa Derning and English teacher Lisa Ruff.

The four teachers applied together for funding from the Education Fund as part of the Innovation Grant program.

A previous outdoor stage was located south of the student parking lot near a soccer field and used for years by many school departments for plays, reading, discussions and a venue to have class outdoors.

But that stage was buried as a snow storage area in the winter and ultimately deteriorated and collapsed.

“It just really wasn’t in a great spot,” Rillos said. “But when it was around, it was very well utilized.”

When applying for funding from the Education Fund last fall, the teachers touted the proposal as something that would integrate multiple subjects, including English, drama, visual arts and construction.

Rillos said the project has since expanded further and will include some wetland restoration near the stage, which will sit between the school and Spring Creek.

A ReTree Steamboat grant from the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council will pay for planting indigenous plants near the stage, creating a “walking lab” for students to use.

Rillos said he’s hopeful that once the classroom stage is completed, classes will think of more ways to use the classroom.

“I’m hoping that once it gets out there, people will dream up new ways to take advantage of the space,” Rillos said.

Project leaders are hopeful the stage takes shape quickly, and there is a target completion date of the weekend of May 21, just in time to host a student performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” during the last week of May.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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