The students recently took part in the “Teens, Trails and Trenches” active trails program, in which they built a culvert system and moved a trail used by hikers and horseback riders by several inches. Chief Ranger Anthony Winegar said the improvements were made at a flood-prone area west of Cheatham Hill Road called Barfield Bottoms.
“It basically kept flooding,” Winegar said. “This was a section of trail that really needed to be addressed.”
The park was able to address the flooding with help from a $19,990 grant from the National Park Foundation, a nonprofit that raises private funds to assist national parks. Ann Strand, secretary of the Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club, said the volunteer group was looking for a school to partner with on the culvert project, so she mentioned the idea to Andy Cole, a U.S. history teacher at South Cobb High who is also a part-time employee with the Kennesaw Mountain Historical Association.
“Having someone with all the enthusiasm and energy that Andy does made all the difference in the world,” Strand said.
And the students performed well, she said. Much of the work involved carrying material over a narrow bridge to an area that couldn’t be reached by vehicles.
Cole said the project, which started with an Aug. 29 welcome ceremony at the school and ended Dec. 1 with a recognition dinner at the Marietta Museum of History, was beneficial in teaching the students about healthy lifestyles and the outdoors, as well as showing the difference working together can make.
“Over time, they got to see that by working together as a group, they could make a measurable difference,” he said.
The students worked on the trail over three work days between September and November.
The students were also able to get an up-close look at the Civil War battlefield.
In spring 2013, students from another high school that serves low-income families will get to take part in the Teens, Trails and Trenches program.
“Personally, I would like to see the program replicated in other areas,” Cole said. “This definitely could be something that could grow.”