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Deer Creek Grove Valley school gains wetlands

Deer Creek Grove Valley Elementary School students recently helped plant native grasses and underwater plants in the school's new wetlands outdoor classroom.
BY TRICIA PEMBERTON Published: April 28, 2011

It's hard work relocating a wetlands, students at Deer Creek Grove Valley Elementary School learned recently.

“They watered the soil but not enough,” said fifth-grader Sarah Crain, 11. “The holes were very hard to dig.”

Sarah and other third- through fifth-graders at the school helped plant native grasses and underwater plants last week in the school's new 3-acre wetlands outdoor classroom.

Fellow fifth-grader Shubhan Gulati, 10, said the work was sweaty, but rewarding.

“We will have teaching posts where students can fish or hold science classes,” he said. “They can test water levels and look for organisms or chemicals.

“It is so fun to have a wetlands. Not many people get to go and see one in their life, and we have one at our school.”

The project is in partnership with Tinker Air Force Base and other state and community agencies who worked alongside students at Friday's ribbon-cutting and planting.

Principal Debbie Straughn explained that a U.S. Air Force military construction project required the relocation of the wetlands from Tinker. The area couldn't be relocated on base, however, because of the potential that planes might strike birds.

Straughn, who had a wetlands outdoor classroom when she was principal at Deer Creek Elementary School, was looking to build an outdoor classroom at Grove Valley. She was put in contact with Tinker through the Oklahoma Conservation District Service. A $55,000 government grant paid for the project.

Saving a tree

Last year, Straughn testified about the project in Senate committee hearings in Washington at the request of Sen. Jim Inhofe. Students at the school watched the hearing via Smartboards, Shubhan said.

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