For SAS students, a hectic lifestyle is the norm. With multiple assessments each day and extra curriculars until 6 p.m., it’s hard for students to relax and simply take a breath of fresh air. However, just a mere two minutes away from the maze of hallways sits a tranquil and undisturbed rainforest. With a curving pathway, delicate flowers and plantain squirrels, it lures students and faculty in. And once they’ve arrived, it’s extremely difficult to leave.
The rainforest on our campus is one of the most important learning opportunities available to students. With the complex biodiversity found there, it’s a perfect outdoor laboratory.
But students have not always had access to this natural lab.
In the process of building a new campus here in the Woodlands in 1993, the 7th grade class decided to create an environmental impact statement with the goal of discovering information about the site and how the creation of a new school would impact the community. From archaeological surveys to studies on flora and fauna and interviews with locals of the area, the school soon began to unravel the mysteries surrounding the new campus location, and in the process, they discovered the extraordinary rainforest right next door.
After agreeing to protect the rainforest from construction on the Woodlands site, the community came together to help preserve and develop it further into the outdoor laboratory it has become today. Steve Early, a high school science teacher who has been at SAS since 1993, was one of the first faculty leaders on the rainforest project.
Mr. Early shared the many benefits of having the rainforest on our campus and emphasized that we need to be good stewards of this natural lab. One of the current projects to improve the space includes addressing “the edge effect.” This is when the trees on the edge of the forest dry out, even when a normal amount of rain and wind hits the rainforest, which can cause the trees to eventually die.
Generous gifts totalling $300,000 SGD from current and former parents, alumni and teachers will provide important funding to restore and protect the current rainforest. These collective gifts from many members of our community will also fund a number of other projects, including a simple irrigation system, a shade structure for seedling projects, updated signage and the removing parts of the rainforests cement pathway. The pathways had been installed a few years ago to make it easier to access the rainforest, but unfortunately it resulted in devastating trees by preventing their roots from growing.
To encourage more students to take advantage of this natural 1.58 acre rainforest classroom, Mr. Early, along with other faculty members, plans to create a large tent area, complete with tables for students to plant seedlings and saplings. Along with this, a labeling system will be developed in order to identify the various 229 trees the rainforest holds.
Besides incredible learning experiences, students leave the rainforest with a refreshed mindset ready to tackle the rest of the day. Next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed by your academic responsibilities, know that the rainforest is right in your own backyard.