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Middle School News

August 27, 2014


YouthBridge Community Foundation Awards MRH with Grant

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Youthbridge Let’s climb trees! On August 7, 2014, YouthBridge Community Foundation (YBCF) presented Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School (MRHMS) with a $14,000 grant, on behalf of a Donor Advisor of the William S. Anheuser Fund, which will be used to further develop the MRHMS tree climbing program. The program is structured to help students make strong connections between themselves, nature and the community.

The tree climbing program began four years ago when MRHMS began working with a local certified arborist, adventure educator and tree climbing instructor, Guy Mott, as a way to gain students interest in trees. In addition, two science teachers, Scott McClintock and Bill Henske, began tree climbing as a challenge activity for the MRHMS Adventure Club, an after school and weekend program comprised of a group of students who love adventure.

Realizing the benefits of recreational tree climbing, MRHMS began to implement the activity into seventh and eighth grade science lessons to reinforce concepts. Before the actual tree climbing begins, students engage in an orientation session where they learn more about trees, climbing and roping techniques, as well as required gear and safety procedures. Students not only climb trees, but have the opportunity to conduct several experiments such as conducting canopy surveys for tardigrades (water-dwelling, segmented micro-animals, with eight legs), measuring of carbon sequestration, checking Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School  Tree Climbing for accuracy of mathematical height calculations, as well as building giant pendulums and performing object drops. All climbing, experiments and class lessons have been around the only tree on the MRHMScampus, a 50 foot majestic red oak tree planted by an employee’s uncle 75 years ago.

In addition to funding the school’s climbing program, the grant will be used to continue to grow the school’s expeditionary model of instruction and curriculum through continued field experience for all students in small group settings.

“Anytime I can secure a grant like this to add tools to our toolbox of teaching and provide unique opportunities to reinforce concepts students are learning in class is a big plus for our staff and students,” said Michael Dittrich, MRHMS principal. “We have two dynamic science teachers that will utilize the gear and improve what we are already doing in science and expeditionary education.”

The grant will also help to provide tents, sleeping bags, cooking and climbing gear, camping equipment and field science equipment to support field studies for years to come. Field studies will provide students rich experiences and authentic learning opportunities in all content areas both in and out of Missouri.

Although, the tree climbing program has been incorporated in the seventh and eighth grade science lessons, all students will be able to participate in the program.

MRHMS is an expeditionary school with a focus on sustainability and benefits strongly from community partners. As a community foundation that supports children and youth and sustainability, YouthBridge was honored to be part of the grant process as we helped bridge resources of generous donors with the needs of MRHMS. 

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.