Nature Photography

Photo Essay: Penn Wood School

Always fun to go back and visit the last grade school I attended. If it’s not peering into classrooms and seeing wall charts teaching skills that adults take for granted – remember what life was like before you learned how to tell time – it’s taking a walk around the school grounds and realizing how different the world is from a child’s perspective.

Did we ever sit in chairs that small? Was the basketball hoop really that high?

Photo essay - basketball hoop at Penn Wood School, Westtown, Pennsylvania

Are beech trees that massive?

Photo essay - beech tree at Penn Wood School, Westtown, Pennsylvania

That’s the upside.

The downside is seeing what has happened to one of the great treasures of Penn Wood School. That would be what everyone called The Field. It was a grassy field that had been carved out of the woods behind the school.

To get there, you had to walk down a terrifyingly steep hill – no running allowed – cross a stream that had a very sharp looking wooden bridge, do a dash to the end of the paved path, and then there it was. The Field.

You could run around like crazy during recess, run laps during gym class, or win one of those oh-so-stylish ribbons at the annual Charlie Brown Field Day. (I treasured my third place broad jump ribbon for years.) After school, it was a great place for hanging out with friends, and you could even take a little hike on the nature trail that a Boy Scout troop had built in the woods.

Such was life for kids in the late 1960s.

These days, the paved path is falling apart…

Photo essay - crumbling path at Penn Wood School, Westtown, Pennsylvania

The bridge is covered with rotting leaves. And it feels shaky when you walk across it…

Photo essay - wooden bridge at Penn Wood School, Westtown, Pennsylvania

The Field is well on its way back to being The Woods. Looks like Penn Wood School has a tree planting project underway, but what’s with all those junked doors? Someone remodel their house, then dump the old doors over at the school?

Photo essay - junked doors at Penn Wood School, Westtown, Pennsylvania

Come on, Penn Wood, it wouldn’t take much to clean this place up. Just get a roll-off dumpster and some energetic people to tote all the junk away from The Field/Woods, and it’s an attractive place again. Might even create some jobs.

The falling apart path? Well, that could be converted into a terraced hiking trail. Just find some railroad ties to create the edges of each terrace, fill ’em with dirt, and there you go. More jobs created and a new exercise trail for the Penn Wood kids. The bridge? Very fixable – even more jobs worth doing.

If the Penn Wood kids are too small or young to help, they could still learn from the renovation of their school grounds. Matter of fact, here’s the outdoor classroom where the workers could brief the kids on what’s going on that day, what their jobs are like, and how the kids can grow up to get one too…

Photo essay - outdoor classroom at Penn Wood School, Westtown, Pennsylvania

And if any of the worker/teachers need a place to put their notes, well, here’s a lectern that could be put back into service…

Photo essay - fallen lectern at Penn Wood School, Westtown, Pennsylvania

So there you have it. A jobs program at my old school.

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