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Students learning cool lessons in snow classroom

A Winnipeg school is showing the voyageur spirit with a massive outdoor classroom on its front lawn. Standing twice as tall as the average École Marie-Anne-Gaboury student, a classroom made of snow and ice is the hot spot for students and community memb

A Winnipeg school is showing the voyageur spirit with a massive outdoor classroom on its front lawn. 

Standing twice as tall as the average École Marie-Anne-Gaboury student, a classroom made of snow and ice is the hot spot for students and community members.

"We have worked hard as a school. The students are very excited about their projects and to see the community even just come out. On the weekend there was a bunch of people driving by and going in it, enjoying the hard work that students put into it," Joel Bohemier, a physical education teacher at École Marie-Anne-Gaboury says.

The St. Vital school's 400 students bonded together, creating the massive structure as a way to celebrate Festival du Voyageur in last week's blistering cold.

École Marie-Anne-GabouryThe classroom's walls are over seven feet tall and are adorned with colourful ice chunks. (Supplied)

"Those who were not moving and working hard were getting a little cold. If they were to complain to me I would say 'then start working a little harder and then you'll see students realize when they do work hard they will start to be warm. So it is a good way to teach them that lesson as well."

The snow fort began as a contest, with students vying for their design to be the one that was chosen for the outdoor classroom.

"We had about 18 proposals come in, some of them were possible, some of them had some ceilings, some slides coming out of them, some stairs," Bohemier laughs.

Choosing to combine three thoughts, the classroom was born. Starting off with plywood walls and a shell of snow, Bohemier says thousands of ice blocks were in front of the school before being used to top the walls, bringing it to an impressive height of somewhere between seven and eight feet. Inside, benches and art pieces are made out of colourful ice.

"We were excited doing the project," he says. "The work that they put in, to see all the little kindergarteners work hard, the Grade 7/8 even... it is really a community feel. The whole school worked hard on it and it all came together so nicely. 

Bohemier says the classroom was completed on Friday and saw people explore the space over the weekend. On Monday morning, the first class had reading time inside the cool space.

École Marie-Anne-GabouryÉcole Marie-Anne-Gaboury teachers have been using the outdoor classroom as a reading space. (Supplied)

"We have had probably bout four or five classrooms (inside) and now we have a sign up at school so that teachers can book that outdoor classroom when they would like."

Despite Monday's warm-weather meltdowns, Bohemier says their hope is to have the outside classroom in good enough shape for students for the remainder of the week.

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