Charter school builds courtyard to help students focus on mental health

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Colorado Early Colleges Colorado Springs built a new green space outside for students to have a place to relax and unwind.

“We’re an early college, so we have very rigorous academics, and students need the opportunity to relax and recharge,” said Jennifer Daugherty, head of school.

The Summit Courtyard has a basketball court, Gaga ball pit, hammocks, rocks to sit on and green grass to run in.

“I think the space will help me to de-stress whenever I have an assignment due or a paper or even just to relax after a particularly hard day,” said 14-year-old Ayanna Dodd.

Students are encouraged to use the space before and after school and during any free periods that they have.

“It’s a nice place to sit quietly and do homework, and it’s also just a nice place to sort out your thoughts,” said 15-year-old Cole Sustman. “I thought it would be really nice just to have a place where you can, kind of, go to get out of the hustle and bustle of high school.”

Daugherty said teachers will also be able to take their classes outside to the courtyard.

“The green grassy area backs up to the outdoor classrooms, so we’re really excited,” she said. “There’s several different teachers that have already designed and planned lessons to be implemented outdoors.”

Several students said they most look forward to relaxing in the hammocks.

“I feel very happy that our school actually took the time and the effort to build a place just for students to hang out,” said 14-year-old Jewels Wozniak.

CECCS said it cost about $2 million to build the courtyard and improve the drainage, building façade, windows and fire alarm system. The money came from bonds and the charter school network’s existing funds.

“Mental health is a really challenging situation in the city of Colorado Springs and particularly El Paso County,” Daugherty said. “So we need to be intentional with giving them time to recharge, reframe and rejuvenate.”

Construction on the courtyard started at the end of May and finished up at the beginning of October.