Students, faculty, administrators, and supporters gathered Friday, October 16, for the official dedication of the Alexander Chudacoff Outdoor Classroom at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School.
The 1,000 square-foot outdoor classroom is nestled in the trees behind Rabun Gap’s Niles Bolton Middle School Complex. The new building includes a large wrap-around deck of 900 square feet, direct access to the creek, and expansive indoor and outdoor areas for students to work on projects.
“Projects like this just don’t happen randomly. It takes a vision from faculty, commitment from supporters, and passion from our students,” said Head of School Jeff Miles. “Our faculty are engaging with this space and its natural surroundings in so many creative ways. I am excited about the future of this classroom and am grateful for the supporters of this project who have ensured engaged learning and discovery for generations to come.”
Local Rabun Gap families and neighbors helped make the vision for an outdoor classroom at the Middle School a reality by supporting the full cost of the project with charitable gifts. Local businesses Vulcan Materials and Highlander Build + Design were also key partners in the project.
The initial lead donor was the late Helga Loenne, who made the gift in memory of her son, Alexander Chudacoff, who had a passion for science and the environment and passed away at age 21. Loenne was inspired by the opportunity to honor his life in a way that gives students the chance to learn about and engage with nature.
A dedicated outdoor classroom space at Rabun Gap has been a dream of Jonathan BySura, longtime middle school science teacher and experiential education coordinator. BySura has built a science curriculum that embraces hands-on learning and natural discovery. The Alex Chudacoff Outdoor Classroom will serve as a hub for the growing science program at the Middle School and offer space for classes and projects involving students of all ages at Rabun Gap.
“For me, this building represents opportunity. It’s the core building block of what has already been established as an outdoor program at Rabun Gap Middle School. Thank you for creating the beating heart to a program that will blossom into what I believe will be the best science program in the country,” said BySura.