Los Cerritos Elementary School students

Outdoor Learning Comes to South City High

Members of the South City High Earth Club with teacher and advisor Rhonda Clements at the opening of the school's outdoor learning space on May 18, 2022.
South San Francisco High School's new outdoor learning space opened on May 18, 2022.
The area was the brainchild of South City High teacher Rhonda Clements, who worked with Green Schoolyards America and South San Francisco Unified School District's (SSFUSD) facilities department during the COVID-19 pandemic to create the space in conjunction with that year's edition of the Earth Club.
"This space is the result of a convergence of events," said Clements. "I've wanted to create a space for Earth Club for over 16 years, but I never found the will or the group of kids who were willing to push through and help me finish the project."
Earth Club President Finley Anne Liquete ('22) and Vice President Rachel Le ('22) were members of San Mateo County's Youth Climate Ambassadors (YCA) Leadership Program during the 2021-22 school year.
Designing and building the outdoor learning space not only helped them fulfill YCA's requirement to complete a community-based project to promote environmental sustainability, it also served as a way to overcome the social isolation associated with the pandemic and online learning.
“I wanted to start the space to provide a safe environment for students to learn and for community to gather together,” Liquete said.
To make the outdoor learning space a reality, SSFUSD's facilities department removed the lawn between the D- and E-wing buildings and leveled the ground, so that Earth Club students could transform the area with planter boxes and indigenous vegetation.
Members of the South City High Earth Club at the opening of the school's outdoor learning space on May 18, 2022.
Culinary art students now grow their own herbs and vegetables, and many of the school’s teachers have found creative ways to shift their classes outside. 
Clements also credited donations from South City High's parent teacher association (PTA), Pacific Clean Energy, faculty members like social studies teacher Patrick Kelly, school alumni, friends of the Earth Club, and even Google for helping to make the outdoor learning space possible.