Lake Lure Classical Academy News…Ambitious new Outdoor Education Learning Center will need full community support to become a reality

Contributed by Lake Lure Classical Academy

As a major part of its commitment to making outdoor learning a central tenet of its curriculum, Lake Lure Classical Academy received an elaborate plan for a new Outdoor Education Center earlier this year. 

The plan was created and generously donated to LLCA by local Landscape Architectural Firm, Knight Strategies.  The Knights live in Lake Lure and have a son attending LLCA.

Once built, students will enjoy the benefits of sunshine and the refreshing connection to nature while participating in outdoor learning. Connecting kids to the outdoors is one key in preserving physical and mental well-being, a natural springboard for academic success. 

Now the hard work begins of raising the necessary funds and rallying sufficient people power to make the plan a reality.  That means volunteers and it means donation of money and materials!

To implement phase one of the project will take $63,000. School officials are hoping to raise at least $50,000 to be able to purchase materials, build the raised garden beds and complete two new outdoor classroom areas with boards and lecture areas.  The plan is on display in the lobby of LLCA for the public to see.

“This is indeed the most ambitious construction project we’ve taken on since moving into our new building several years ago,” said School Director Barbara Cohen.

“But if the pandemic has revealed anything to educators, and to our families it’s that our children desperately need far more exposure to and immersion in an outdoor learning atmosphere.”

Cohen and the School Board are confident that the community as well as all Raptor families will come through and that the outdoor learning center will become a reality.

Support for the new Outdoor Learning Center is an ideal year-end contribution and tax deduction.

Donors may contribute online via PayPal at, write a check directly to LLCA c/o the Raptor Fund for Outdoor Learning at 1058 Island Creek Dr., Lake Lure, NC  28746, or contact School Director Barbara Cohen directly to discuss the project in greater detail:

More about the Outdoor Learning Center:

The Plan calls for:

BOMA Classrooms 

The African BOMA dates back to pre-Colonial times and was used to protect livestock and fortify homesteads. To celebrate this architectural history, we have recreated thee structures as a unique experience for outdoor dining or classroom activities.

Space is provided for 36 students at a time and the circular shape allows for easy visibility of teaching instructions.

At the center of each BOMA lives a one of a kind tree, sculpted out of iron and covered with a green shade fabric to mimic the canopy of a tree.

Raised Garden

The central garden features nine raised beds constructed from decorative concrete blocks. Each of these beds will be assigned to a different school grade. The raised beds will aid teachers with hands-on learning for students, allowing them to immerse themselves in the design, planting, caring for, and harvesting of their edible gardens.

The gardens will also double as classroom space, featuring a raised platform in the central bed. The platform creates an ideal location to instruct students while being visible from all areas. The garden bed walls create perfect seating spots for students, as does the green artificial lawn encasing the central platform. This will make for an ideal spot for teachers and students alike – surrounded by the fragrance and colors of nature. 

Outdoor Classrooms

The gentle sloping lawn of our outdoor classrooms allow for easy visible instruction for teachers. The two artificial lawn areas are each 30×30, replicating a typical classroom size. The back side of the garden trellises were utilized to incorporate built in chalkboards for classroom activities.

How Outdoor Learning Takes Place Now

In addition to the plan for the outdoor classroom and recreation areas, LLCA has already dramatically ramped up its partnerships with outdoor education specialists such as Mountain Roots out of Brevard and its long-time partner, Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Additionally, LLCA continues its relationship with Muddy Sneakers, which focuses on outdoor experiences specifically for fifth graders. 

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