By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — A local elementary school will once again take its classroom into the outdoors.
Ernest P. Barka Elementary School received a $3,083 grant from the N.H. Council on the Arts to continue the school’s Outdoor Classroom project.
Last year, Barka students, along with an artist-in-resident and PTA volunteers, planned and completed an outdoor butterfly garden.
“We were funded again and will be funded in part by our fantastic PTA,” Barka assistant principal Stephanie Pike said.
She said it’s still early in the process, but much of the work will include bringing another artist to Derry.
New Hampshire artist Emile Birch will be part of the plan this time and will come to Barka on regular visits to assist students with this year’s project.
He will oversee four concrete sculptures around the theme of Colonial America, Pike said.
Sculptures will be placed in the school’s outdoor classroom area.
The core group of students working on the projects will be fifth-graders as it ties in with their curriculum and history studies.
“All students will be involved, but the core group is fifth grade,” Pike said.
School Board Chairman Brenda Willis said Barka has been working on outdoor projects for several years. Students and volunteers have worked on trails near the school, planted flowers near fields and also worked alongside a local Boy Scout to install a bench as part of an Eagle Scout award.