Outdoor Learning Facilities

JP's Treehouse

In the spring of 2018, Laurie Brown, mother of John Peter “JP” Handley-Greaves '12, approached us about a project that would serve two purposes. She wanted to give Upland something that would enhance our Chester County campus with a unique educational experience for students. The gift would also honor her son, who enjoyed his outdoor learning experiences at Upland more than any other school he attended.

JP's Treehouse does just that. It is in perfect keeping with both the educational approach at Upland and the person whom it honors. JP Handley-Greaves was a boy who loved the outdoors. When he first visited Upland as a potential lower schooler, it was a snowy winter day. He noticed the kids here were outdoors sledding. This approach was different than the other schools he visited where children were indoors, hiding from the weather. 

This structure was about a year in the making. And though the physical structure is complete, JP's Treehouse is not yet finished. It will be up to the imaginations of our students and teachers to put finishing touches on this site.
JP's Treehouse sits adjacent to another structure that has transformed our campus. The Kleberg IDEA Center has evolved into a vibrant and dynamic learning site. So too has JP‘s treehouse. It is another transformational element of our campus that has furthered our outstanding educational programs. JP's Treehouse inspires students and teachers to dream and create.

How We Use It

  • Outdoor Classroom in every season
  • Team building
  • Art in nature -- easels & drawing stations
  • Science classes
  • Nature collections 
  • Environmental curriculum 
  • Bird watching
  • Musical garden
  • After school clubs
  • Hosting outside organization 
  • Educational shows

Treehouse Features

  • 24’ x 35’ deck supported by two trees and eight poles
  • Netting lounge area
  • Octogonal platform & rope bridge
  • 12’ x 20’ house
  • French doors
  • Double-hung windows
  • Two Murphy tables
  • Tongue & groove mahogany flooring

JP's Treehouse Logo: What is means

  • The nautical compass represents JP's family's love of sailing.
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious represent JP's humor.  He wanted his dad to name their boat this.
  • JP's initials were taken from his dear friend's Upland yearbook that he signed when he graduated.
  • Semper In Cordibus Nostris to represent JP's love of Latin which he studied at Upland.  It translates to "Forever in Our Hearts" for which JP most certainly is.  

The Labyrinth

Assistant Head of School, Dr. Pepper, sat quietly in her office with an anxious student. Feeling overwhelmed with her day, the student needed a break. Dr. Pepper handed the student a tabletop labyrinth and stylus. As the student started the maze, she quickly began to settle and relax. Dr. Pepper thought, “We need a walking labyrinth here.” And, with that, she began to plan. 

Dialing in the help from Mr. Gallagher in the IDEA Center, the 9th graders prototyped labyrinths during geometry class. The next step was to find a donor that would be interested in supporting this project. 
The Michael and Nancy Pia Foundation recently gifted the services of a mindfulness instructor to Upland’s students and faculty. Dr Hickey felt this might be a natural extension of their already generous support of the school.
Fast forward three months and the Pias visited Upland in the Winter of 2020 to listen to the students’ proposals on layout, location, cost, and construction of the labyrinth. They went home with five prototypes that day. In August, construction began ultimately merging each prototypes’ best elements into the labyrinth’s foundation.

List of 3 items.

  • A Calming Effect

    A labyrinth—complex network of circles with ancient roots can be found on Greek Pottery, cave walls and on the floors of medieval cathedrals in Europe—can have a calming effect and encourages mindfulness as they force you to slow down as you wind your way through the path to the center point.  
  • Creative Use of Outdoor Space

    The creative use of our outdoor spaces helps make it possible for our students and faculty to be on campus, outside in the fresh air. Many of the changes we’ve made, some in response to COVID-19, will be permanent.
  • An Impactful Community Project

    This impactful community project allowed our Class of 2020 to explore mindfulness in a tangible way and demonstrated how their ideas can make a positive and lasting change, especially during a year when we needed tools for mindfulness the most.