Children in Lenexa will soon return to classes and some are heading outdoors for the new school year.

At the start of the 2018 school year, Sunflower Elementary School, located at 8955 Loriet Boulevard, will get its first outdoor classroom.

The project is being overseen by Hollis + Miller Architects and will be completed in only a matter of days. And the good news doesn’t end there, the entire project is free, as part of Hollis + Miller’s annual philanthropy work.

The entire team of architects is spending the week putting the classroom together. Every year they pick a school and design an outdoor classroom for their needs. They say it is important to be part of designing the future.

“The kids can be inside all day long and not come outside other than recess and we know there's a lot of benefits to be outdoors with the fresh air and being able to do experiments outside that you can’t do,” Senior Project Architect Daniel Cooper said.

Architects designed the building with a theme of sustainability and it will feature plant beds, solar panels and the ability for students to learn about water conservation.

The outdoor classroom will be big enough to fit up to two classes at a time. The building will also have different options for seating to be able to break off into smaller groups.

“It'll have a lot of different aspects to it and not just sitting and receiving but also experimenting,” Cooper said.

The new classroom will have WIFI access but technology will be at a minimum. And it is designed to be that way, with a concept of “Going back to the basics.”

Principal Ryan Kalis says he can’t wait to show the classroom to his students and staff.

“Oh, I think minds will be blown and I think they're going to be excited,” Kalis said. “I know the teachers are back next Monday on the sixth and we're going to come out and tour it together as a staff and I think their minds are going to be blown.”

Kalis says the school has been following the entire process and has already learned a lot from it.

“Not only have the kids learned from the process along the way but I've learned a lot, the teachers have learned a lot, and we're excited to share it with the Shawnee Mission community,” Kalis said.

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