By Ridgeway Refuge Committee
The Ridgeway Refuge, now in its 35th year, was designed to enhance the Ridgeway school community’s environmental awareness. Through education and participation in its development, maintenance and care, the Refuge provides a calm and natural outdoor space for teaching and learning.
The Refuge has been through many iterations. From a once barren school courtyard, the space has evolved throughout the years to include garden beds, including a vegetable garden; trees, vines, shrubs, and perennials planted in honour of administrators, authors, teachers, students and dignitaries; a pond and water feature; and butterfly garden.
The Refuge encourages all who gather there to pause and reflect. Students observe the subtle seasonal changes. Students and teachers learn together, asking questions and making spontaneous discoveries. Curiosity is awakened.
Students and staff are involved in the Refuge’s care and maintenance. The Refuge Committee, a group of dedicated teachers, support staff and administrators, share responsibility for planning and organizing for curricular connections, student activities, and special events.
By planting and tending to the garden, students develop skills in organization, observation and critical thinking. They also develop an understanding and appreciation for their relationship with the environment.
Throughout the years, families have also contributed, from the planning through to the construction stages to annual maintenance. The Ridgeway Refuge is a wonderful example of community coming together to enhance the overall teaching and learning experience.