For the past 22 years, Newbury Elementary has offered their annual “Wet Labs” days, an enriching outdoor learning experience for every student in every grade. During these highly anticipated days in May, students left their books behind to spend a few prized hours in fresh air and sunshine exploring natural resource topics through hands-on adventures. Year after year, the annual theme, activities, parent volunteers, weather, and even teachers changed, but consistently the core objective of the program remained: to provide the students with active learning and outdoor investigations to strengthen their comprehension of classroom lessons.
The program began in 1999 as a way to celebrate Earth Day, under the leadership of a dedicated parent (and renowned Geauga Park District naturalist!) Judy Barnhart. In the coming years, the Newbury Parent Teacher Organization, Geauga Park District, and Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) came together to plan and coordinate the programs.
For over two decades and through budget cuts, staffing changes, school reorganizations, and testing obligations, the Newbury Black Knights stayed committed to this teaching treasure. Thank you to all of the parents, teachers, staff, administrators, agencies, and partners who have contributed to this legacy, keeping it alive and well for the benefit of our students.
Though Wet Labs very last year was cancelled with Ohio’s school closings, Geauga SWCD thanks and applauds the collaborators in this most amazing grassroots outdoor learning tradition! May other school districts be inspired by your accomplishments and keep environmental education a priority.