AUGUSTA — When Cony High School senior Alexander Stewart learned that Lincoln Elementary School was raising funds to build an outdoor classroom, he offered to help out.

Stewart attended the city elementary school, where his own grandmother had served as principal.

He would make the classroom his Eagle Scout project.

Some 250 hours of volunteer time later, by he and about 30 other people who he enlisted to help out, the school now has a sturdily-built new pavilion just outside the school’s doors. It’s surrounded by freshly landscaped grounds and providing a covered space on a concrete pad with two wooden benches that can also serve as a table where students can learn about the great outdoors, in the outdoors.

“It’s amazing, much better than we ever expected, we’re excited about putting it to use,” said Heather Gauthier, principal of the elementary school.

Stewart, a member of Boy Scout Troop 479 in China that is led by Scott Adams, sought out volunteers and donated materials to help complete the job. Once planning was done and materials were assembled, it went up in a few days, a six-post structure made with spruce and pressure-treated beams with a trussed roof covered in metal roofing, on a 12-by-20-by-6-foot concrete pad, surrounded by plants and flowers donated by DR Struck and mulch donated by Bancroft Landscaping.

The project took about 250 hours of work and about 30 volunteers, with Stewart leading the effort and organizing the work, along with help from Jon Stonier, the school district’s buildings and grounds director. The project was completed over the weekend of July 27-29.

Stewart chose the project for his Eagle Scout project in part because he heard the outdoor classroom was desired by the school he attended. The fact his grandmother, Enga Stewart, served as principal at the school when both Alexander and his older brother Sean went to school there didn’t hurt either.

Alexander said his grandmother Enga even helped out with the project, taking photographs of the work taking place and supplying much of the food for volunteers as they worked.

“That school means a lot to us as a family, (Enga Stewart) gave of herself, for many years, to Lincoln,” said Alexander’s mom, Kristina Stewart.

She said her son didn’t do the project seeking recognition, but agreed to talk about the project with others to help encourage people to take part in projects and activities that help the greater community.

“We thought having Alex talk about it would send the message out there that communities need everyone, the young, the old, everyone, to kind of pitch in and help,” she said. “Giving back doesn’t have to be money. If you see a need, just fill the gap and help out.”

It’s the family’s second Eagle Scout project. Alex’s older brother Sean, who now works for the United States Geological Service in New York, built a covered sandbox, fashioned after a train station, in 2014 for children to play in at the Waterville Homeless Shelter.

The outdoor classroom cost about $4,500 to build, and was paid for with donated money, including sizable donations from Connected Credit Union, and the Elsie and William Viles Foundation.

Gauthier is confident the pavilion will see a significant amount of use. She said some Lincoln teachers went to a workshop this summer specifically on how to incorporate nature into their teaching. She said students will also be able to do hands-on experiments outside where making a mess won’t be as much of a concern as it would inside. She said the school may also have some staff meetings under the outdoor classroom.

Alexander Stewart recently did a presentation about his project to the Augusta City Council. Councilors were impressed.

“You’re a role model, and just what we need in our community, keep up the great work, we appreciate it very much,” said Ward 2 Councilor Darek Grant.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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