Halls celebrates changes to outdoor classroom

By Ken Lay


The Halls High School jazz band played some standards while the school and Halls Community had a celebration in the school’s outdoor classroom.

There were games for the kids, ice cream and barbecue as Halls High had its annual celebration in the outdoor classroom Tuesday night.

The evening concluded with a pie-eating contest that included County Commissioners Bob Thomas and Ed Brantley. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett also made an appearance at the event.

The Halls High outdoor classroom is one of nine in Knox County and was conceived in 2003. It was a joint effort of Hallsdale-Powell Utility District, the school system, Tennessee Water Research Commission and Knox County Storm Water and a steering committee comprised of Halls High School teachers and students.

The classroom now has two amphitheatres. The second was constructed by Cameron Greer. Greer is a student at Halls and developed the second amphitheatre as his Eagle Scout project.

Burchett commended the Halls Community for coming together to create the classroom, which began to get another facelift Wednesday; one that will make it accessible to disabled students.

“This is a political thing where I could take all the credit,” Burchett said. “But [Knox County Watershed Coordinator] Roy Arthur does all the heavy lifting and he deserves the credit. He’s a good man.

“This is great for the people of the Halls Community. They don’t expect a lot and they don’t ask for a lot. They just come together and they make it happen.”

Arthur called the classroom “a wonderful facility.”

He also noted that all the materials and labor to make the classroom accessible to handicapped students was donated.

“All the materials were donated and the labor was donated for the new project and it will be finished in two weeks,” Arthur said.

The classroom is located in a former residential area that was in a heavy flood zone. The houses were sold and Knox County Schools purchased the land with a FEMA grant.

Halls High School biology and ecology teacher Kerrie Conley said that all students benefit from the outdoor classroom.

“Our English classes come out here and they go to the amphitheatre and do readings,” she said. “Our photography classes come out here. The Ag classes identify trees and our ecology classes do things out here.”

Like Burchett, Conley said that the outdoor classroom was developed by a team effort.

“This was a team effort and this is our yearly celebration,” she said. “This year, were celebrating the project to make the classroom ADA accessible and this is also a celebration for the creation of our second amphitheatre.”