Walkers who trek around the walking track at Dearing Elementary School will soon have a scenic route, and teachers who retire will not be forgotten. Plans are in the works for the area inside the track to be transformed into a butterfly garden, an outdoor classroom and a retirement grove.
Principal Laura Hughes said the project evolved from the "ideas of so many people," and will materialize through Thomson High senior Kenneth Watkins and the help of other volunteers.
"The first year I came to DES, I had seven people retire," Dr. Hughes said. "I wanted to be able to do something really special for them but was really unsure how or what to do. I am so appreciative for all the people that will carry this project through. Once complete, this will be a retirement grove that the community and school family can enjoy every day."
Kenneth is doing the work as his Eagle Scout service project. His older brother, Chris, designed the layout on his computer. Kenneth said the 20-ft. circle inside the walking track will be inlaid with a compass from which will point four paths in each direction.
Between the paths will be raised flower beds made of brick that will be six feet in length and end with an arch. The beds will be planted with milkweed and other flowers to attract Monarchs. Trees will be planted with a marker naming each teacher who retires from DES. Mrs. Hughes said there will be room for up to 300 trees to be planted in the future. Kenneth said there will be space for teachers to use the area as an outdoor classroom also.
Kenneth said the biggest obstacle he faces right now is donations of all sorts - money, materials and help and time from people.
"My biggest need is a brick mason," he said. "I have some experience laying a little bit of brick, but it doesn't look that good."
Anyone interested in helping Kenneth may contact him by calling 706-595-5097 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.