Thursday, Jun 15, 2006
Two projects undertaken by pupils at Harpers Ferry Middle School were highlighted as part of National Trails Days activities centered in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park on Saturday, June 3rd.
The schoolâs âservice-learningâ projects, through which young people integrate classroom learning with community-service projects, were developed through a partnership with the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), a private nonprofit organization headquartered in Harpers Ferry since 1972.
The service-learning partnership, initiated by Rita Hennessy, acting park manager for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, began last September. All 165 sixth-graders participated in introductory hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. In November, the students mapped the trail through Harpers Ferry with global-positioning system (GPS) units. They also took notes and photographs for a brochure, developed by them over the winter, that highlights the Appalachian Trail and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitors Center in Harpers Ferry. The brochure will be available to the parkâs estimated 300,000 visitors each year.
After learning about the sixth-grade project, the schoolâs student council approached the ATC, seeking a project of their own. Those pupils agreed to develop high-quality informational posters for underutilized bulletin boards in the park. Like the sixth-graders, council members went on hikes and took notes, photographs, and measurements to specific sites within the park and along the trail. Ranger Elizabeth Kerwin-Nisbet guided this effort with assistance from Michele Foshee, Harpers Ferry Center intern, who conducted a âlive designâ session with council members on April 26th.
Chris Jarvis, associate director for partnerships, interpretation, education, volunteers and outdoor recreation, represented the director. David Startzell, executive director of ATC, presented Joe Spurgas, Harpers Ferry Middle School principal, with a check for $500, followed by the unveiling of the brochure and posters.