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Walled Lake Western Eagle Scout helps provide Wixom Elementary with beautiful outdoor learning space

Walled Lake Western Eagle Scout helps provide Wixom Elementary with beautiful outdoor learning space
Wixom Elementary principal, Cathy Russel, with Joel Rangel in outdoor learning space

The Wixom Elementary Wolves relished in every last moment of warm weather to enjoy their brand new outdoor learning space that officially opened in mid-October.

The project was made possible thanks to generous donations from the Wixom Meijer and former Board of Education trustee Nancy van Leuwen. Walled Lake Western senior Joel Rangel then turned the PTA’s vision into a reality as part of his Eagle Scout project.

Students listening to teacher in Wixom outdoor learning space

“I’ve always wanted to do something for this place because there has been a lot of memories that I cherish here,” said Rangel, who is a Wixom Elementary alumnus. “A lot of teachers here helped me throughout my schooling, so I really wanted to do something to help them.”

Rangel did just that. He placed posts in the ground, hung hammocks, put down mulch, and built an outdoor classroom equipped with two whiteboards and tree stump seats for every student in a class.

“It came together really well, a lot better than I expected,” admitted Rangel. “The hammocks are my favorite part because I’ve always liked reading and reading in a safe space is always the best moment for me.”

Wixom Elementary students enjoying their hammocks

“This space gives all of our students an opportunity to be outside while learning, whether it is at the outdoor classroom or in the hammocks,” said principal Cathy Russel. “Our students love reading in the hammocks and teachers are reporting that their students are more engaged in their reading and can sustain longer reading while lounging in the hammocks.”

“We were so fortunate to have received generous donations both from our Wixom Meijer and from Nancy Van Leuwen, along with a tremendous amount of work from our Wixom alum Joel Rangel,” added Russel.

Rangel completed the project in mid-October and on October 17 passed his board review to officially graduate to Eagle Scout.

“It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, and there were some moments where I wanted to back out, but I kept through it because I knew that the work was going to pay off.”