Redefining The Classroom

Lakota East NHS fundraises to build their Eco-Classroom, a fully functional outdoor classroom where students can have a different environment to learn and take their masks off.


Audrey Allen

Former East student Megan Sheth helps dig a spot for the new East Eco-Classroom

Maddie Behrmann


Lakota East National Honor Society (NHS) is building an Eco Classroom for their yearly project, which is predicted to open in spring at the Lakota East High school and is being funded by their annual Sadie Hawkins fundraiser (Sadies) and the Lakota School District.

The eco classroom is going to be a “fully functional, wheelchair accessible” outdoor classroom, with WiFi, seating, desks, and a whiteboard, according to NHS President Piper Dorr. 

“It’s going to be a socially distant space for students to learn,” Dorr said. “So especially during the summer, fall and spring, teachers can just take their classes out there and have class.” 

The classroom, located on LEHS main campus, will provide a “different environment for kids to learn and help them stay engaged,” Dorr said.

“I think it’s beneficial to get outside during the school day. A lot of times you can feel locked up in the classroom and I think it’s nice to get some fresh air,” Grace Johnston, a project manager for the Eco Classroom said. 

There will be landscaping, turf flooring, a tile pathway, and sails overhead.The NHS members are planning to build everything included in the classroom themselves. 

“We have landscaping and furnishing committees, but since it’s becoming the end of the year, we have different jobs, like building the chairs, the seating, planting, helping with the tile pathway, flooring,” Tory McKissic, a project manager for the Eco Classroom said.

The funding for their supplies is coming from their Sadies fundraiser that raised around $8,800 in January. The sails were paid for by the Lakota School District. Because the District paid for the sails, NHS is hoping to leave a little bit of money for next year.

Planning for Sadies was a struggle for NHS because they didn’t know if the Omicron variant surge was going to cancel their biggest fundraiser. NHS Vice President Amanda McCrary said the biggest struggle in planning was determining if the dance was actually going to happen.

“It hit us when we came back from break,” McCrary said.“We were like, there’s a lot of COVID-19 cases, what are we going to do about that? And so we had an alternate date.”

 Lakota East Principal Rob Burnside told NHS that he wasn’t canceling the dance, it was up to them if they wanted to cancel. They held it on Jan. 27th, the original date, and sold more than 500 tickets.

Last year’s NHS wasn’t able to have  Sadies due to COVID-19, which is why the Eco Classroom project carried over to this year. Johnston said it was a combination of the size of the project and COVID-19 because they weren’t able to fundraise as much last year. McKissic added that because of COVID-19 they weren’t able to “order the materials that we wanted.”

The classroom is dedicated to Judy Buckenmeyer, a former Lakota East teacher who passed away in 2020. NHS hopes to open the Eco Classroom on May 15th with a ribbon-cutting, during the NHS induction ceremony.