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Nicole Curtis of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict” joined the students of Winslow Township Middle School on Friday to build an outdoor classroom.

The classroom was funded by the Bernzomatic Community Find Your Fire Grant, which awarded the school $15,000, as well as $1,500 worth of Bernzomatic products and a visit from Curtis.

Students and staff of the middle school worked with Curtis to build raised gardens, construct benches and plant flowers in the space – something Curtis wishes more kids would experience.

“If we had come in and just built this classroom, the kids wouldn’t have appreciated it,” Curtis says. “But since they get to help build it, they’ll tell their parents and the other students what they did. It gets them excited to use the space.”

HGTV’s Nicole Curtis and Winslow Township Middle School teacher Ross Cruz.

Winning the grant was a collaborative effort that started with STEM teacher Ross Cruz. Benzomatic chose the top 10 finalists from more than 100 applicants in December, and then voting was opened to the public for a month.

The school put the word out on Facebook with the help of local organizations and were crowned the winner after gaining more than 4,000 votes.

Cruz then started creating designs for the outdoor classroom and an indoor makerspace, which will be open to all students.

“There are so many benefits to the STEM experience that I thought it should be open to the entire school, not just the 60 kids in my class,” Cruz says.

The makerspace is set up and in use by both teachers and students, and the outdoor classroom was finished today. Everyone pitched in – including Winslow Township Mayor Barry Wright – and signed their name on the project they helped to build.

The hard work ended on a bright note when Curtis asked the students to make a video for her friend Tessa, a 7-year-old girl battling neuroblastoma. They put on “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” and danced. Watch the fun below!

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