Mayfield Woods eighth-graders create nature trail

May 09, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

Jennifer Shaver, 13, pulled up stubborn roots all morning. But on this try, she couldn't yank free the subterranean matter, although she twisted it and knelt and pulled with all her might.

Eric Layson noticed his eighth-grade classmate's unsuccessful efforts. With a large pick he struck the dirt several times, loosened the root and pulled it from the ground.

The pair were among 30 Mayfield Woods Middle School students who uprooted roots and dug soil Friday to create a nature trail near their school in Elkridge.

Jennifer had a good time but encountered one problem: "I don't like to touch them," she said referring to worms.

Since September, 220 Mayfield eighth-graders have worked diligently to clear the 3/4 -mile trail. Their work allows them to fulfill the state's mandatory student community service requirement, which says that students must perform 75 hours of public service or complete a locally designed student service program to graduate from high school.

The Mayfield Woods students take turns and go out once a week to rake, mulch and remove debris from the 4-foot-wide, tree-lined path. But their schedule was delayed by the icy winter.

Friday was the first time students worked an entire day on the trail.

The energetic students uprooted plants and removed logs, twigs and fallen branches. They also dug dirt to set rows of two-by-fours as borders along the trail. While digging, Tim Fritz, 13, surprised himself.

"I just dug up a worm and cut that bad boy in half," he yelled. "Sorry about that."

The trail's name, "The Eighth Grade Nature Trail," may possibly be changed to honor two schoolmates who died last year, students and teachers said.

The project is a business partnership with Ryan Homes, which supplied manpower, 200 two-by-fours and other materials.

"I wish I had something like that when I was going through middle school," said Braden Maley, a Ryan Homes production supervisor. "It's pretty progressive."

The students outlined areas where seven steps will be included on the winding trail, which begins in front of the school and snakes around the building by a stream.

"They're really working hard," said Babette Silverman, an eighth-grade teacher at Mayfield who is coordinating the project. "I've seen a lot of growth in the students -- a lot of cooperation."

The project, expected to be completed by the end of the year when a new eighth-grade class takes over, will have a lasting impact on the community.

"People can walk [in] the woods and see how beautiful it is," said Shaun Berry, 14. "They can see all the pretty birds."

The project has taught Shaun to respect the environment. He now recycles and does not litter.

"If we don't start teaching kids at this age . . . we'll all be in trouble," Mrs. Silverman said.

Nikki Lightfoot, 13, who raked and dug up roots, said it's too bad her eighth-grade class won't finish the trail. But she plans to return and visit the path when her sister enrolls at the school next year.

"It's good to know we got it started," Tim Fritz said. "It's good to know we had a lot to do with it."

Friday also provided a chance to capture memories.

Holding a camera, Mrs. Silverman stopped three boys carrying a two-by-four over their heads. "Hold it guys," she said, as she positioned the camera. "This is a Kodak moment."

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