Outdoor Classroom and Facilities
Holy Family Catholic Academy is the first Preschool –Grade 8 school in the entire Chicago area to be certified as an outdoor classroom by Nature Explore, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. The Outdoor Classroom consists of nine distinct areas that complement HFCA’s innovative curriculum, and expose students to a broad and balanced range of disciplines that goes beyond textbooks and beyond the classroom.
States Susie Wirth, Nature Explore Outreach Director, “Holy Family Catholic Academy has shown tremendous leadership in growing the next generation of environmental stewards. Their commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to educators throughout the country.”
Expanding learning outside the classroom is consistent with HFCA’s data-driven approach to our curriculum. Recent studies support that exposing students to nature helps improve concentration, boost creativity and collaboration, and nurture the mind, body and soul. Equally important, students learn to care for God’s creation, a major tenet of Catholic Social Teachings.
As an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Candidate, the Outdoor Classroom is aligned with our goals of developing students’ natural curiosity, promoting an independent spirit to explore new roles and ideas, emphasizing the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance needed to achieve personal well-being. It truly is a unique space to play and learn.
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Holy Family’s campus is located on 20-acres. In addition to our nationally certified Outdoor Classroom, our facilities include a fenced play area, sport fields, sledding hills and cross-country skiing trails which are used by Grades 1-8 for PE class in the winter. Since the founding of our school, we are grateful that our parish community has embraced our innovative school and successfully completed two capital campaigns. These campaigns were critical to keep pace with the growth of our Academy and parish ministries, and resulted in expanding our campus by 40,000 square feet to include an art room, cafeteria, gymnasium, and a multi-torium that can seat 450 people.
Most notably, our modern facility includes two fully-equipped science labs supporting our science curriculum grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards. These labs create an opportunity for both our middle school students as well as students in preschool through grade 5 the opportunity to study science in a hands-on manner, use authentic equipment, and learn skills only found in genuine lab experiences.