Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS) and the City of Broken Arrow recently launched a unique collaborative effort to develop an outdoor environmental classroom and ecological training center along portions of the Upper Adams Creek watershed, located immediately adjacent to Broken Arrow High School (BAHS).
“Having an outdoor amenity accessible to our students will provide the opportunities for hands-on engagement in critical STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas, particularly dealing with ecological systems, environmental sustainability and water quality,” said Donna Gradel, 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and science teacher at BAHS. “It will also furnish avenues for students to collaborate in solving real-world problems in their local community with expert mentors from the City of Broken Arrow and the other professionals.”
The program may include floating wetlands, rain gardens, cascade aerators, fountains, nature preserves, walking trails, specific types of ecological-friendly vegetation and other beneficial features to enhance the environment and ecological system within the corridor while improving the overall water quality of the stream.
“The three goals of the program will be to provide and maintain adequate flood control and protection for our residents, improve water quality along the stream corridor and enhance the natural habitat in the area,” said Assistant City Manager for Operations Kenneth Schwab.
Initially, the program will focus on the regional detention facility north of the high school, but will expand upstream to the regulatory wetland preserve located in the commercial area south of the high school near Hillside Drive and the Broken Arrow Expressway.
“A major benefit of the program will be to provide our students, the future leaders of our community, the opportunity to help plan what we want our community to become – a more ecologically-conscience and environmentally sustainable community,” BAPS Superintendent Dr. Janet Dunlop said.
Students and City of Broken Arrow staff will develop a plan for the land during this semester and begin implementing that plan in the Spring semester. Both groups will continue improving and maintaining the area in the following years.
“We want to create something that is useful for the students at Broken Arrow High School and beneficial to the public in general, while at the same time fulfills our obligation as a City to control stormwater runoff and protect property within the watershed,” said Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon.