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The colors popped brilliantly against gray skies this morning as Weldon Elementary Global Academy celebrated the completion of its Outdoor Learning Center, a project which reached across the community and spans across curriculum.

Done in three phases, Principal Lakesha McPhail-Tann told guests in the school media center, “The purpose and goal of our outdoor learning center is to connect our scholars to the environment through dynamic experiences that will inspire their curiosity, critical thinking and encourage their learning and exploration.”

She said the success of each student “is a shared responsibility of students, parents, families, business partners, faith-based organizations and the community.”

The project was a collaborative effort with many partners, McPhail-Tann told the visitors. She said later the project received more than $8,000 in grant funds and donations from Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart and Roses. The partners in the project are many — Masons from the Roanoke Rapids Grand Lodge, the Evangelistic Church of Deliverance, the county master gardeners club, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, the town of Weldon, Lynch’s Signs and Graphics, 4-H, Halifax Community College and the Roanoke Valley Education Consortium.

Guiding students and staff in the project were 4-H advisors Shannon Goss, a third-grade teacher; Sherrian Jennings, a third grade teacher and Darrick McGee, a parent volunteer; art teacher Yolanda Pierce and Pre-K teacher Lois Cheek.

"The guidance and hard work of these very talented teachers,students, and volunteers made this project a huge success," McPhail-Tann said.

The three phase project began in the 2016-17 school year with cleaning and clearing, preparing murals and putting up peace posts. “Lowe’s and the community came and helped hammer and pound nails,” she said, along with the students.

In the second and third phases the learning center began to take shape and tomatoes were grown and the students planted their fall crops.

With a 4-H program started last year, McPhail-Tann said the school’s hope is the Outdoor Learning Center will give students further career options.

The work leading up to the center and work on its upkeep has involved art, science and math and other curriculum the school offers.

“I think it’s wonderful to have all the community care and support,” said Weldon Mayor Julia Meacham.

Halifax County Commissioner Patrick Qualls praised the school and its staff. “I congratulate everyone involved. This school is always warm and welcoming. You’re lucky to have this many people involved. The more experiences you have, the better you are prepared for the future.”

School system Superintendent Tracy Gary said the Outdoor Learning Center is an example of working together to help the children. “It takes all of us working together, Our purpose is the children.”

Hugh Credle, chair of the Weldon school board, said, “We hope this will expand opportunities for our young scholars.”