Sixth-graders at La Grande Middle School will soon be bound for a 186-acre classroom.

The La Grande School Board voted Wednesday to approve a resolution that allows the school district to spend $30,000 to conduct an outdoor school. The outdoor school, which may be conducted annually, will be funded with money the school district has received from the state via Measure 99. In 2016, voters approved Measure 99, which created an Outdoor School Education Fund, continuously funded through the Oregon Lottery, to provide outdoor school programs statewide.

The La Grande School District will conduct its outdoor school for sixth-graders at Camp Elkanah, 27 miles southeast of La Grande. The outdoor school will run for three days and two nights May 14-16, said La Grande Middle School Principal Kyle McKinney.

Camp Elkanah is a 186-acre site with 22 cabins that can accommodate at least 230 people. The facilities are used throughout the year for events including reunions, weddings, camps and church retreats, according to its website.

McKinney said this will be the first full-fledged outdoor school students at LMS have attended in the 11 years he has been the school’s principal. He said that before this, though, students did have some outdoor school experiences in the form of day trips to areas including Pumpkin Ridge, Spring Creek and Morgan Lake. The principal said these day trips generated great excitement among students and he anticipates that the outdoor school at Camp Elkanah will create an even greater buzz.

Representatives of agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Wildlife will be among those providing instruction at the outdoor school. Students will be taught about native plants, trees, rain water and much more, McKinney said.

See complete story in Friday's Observer

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