For New Albany Middle School’s eighth grade class, the year 2016 holds special significance. Not only will they graduate from high school in 2016 – it is also the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. And it’s the same year, they may see some of their ideas come to life in the National Parks as exhibits and marketing strategies.
The director of the National Parks Service, Jonathan B. Jarvis, made an exclusive visit to New Albany Middle School, Friday, May 4. Director Jarvis met with eighth grade students who prepared science projects based on National Parks. He also announced a special park visit funded by the National Park Foundation for the entire class of 2016!
Science teacher Josh Flory use the National Park Service’s Call to Action Report as a project-based learning tool to engage the students in solving real world issues. The Call to Action Report cites several objectives in order to achieve its goal of connecting people to parks in the next century:
- Develop and nurture life-long connections between the public and parks—especially for young people—through a continuum of engaging recreational, educational, volunteer, and work experiences.
- Connect urban communities to parks, trails, waterways, and community green spaces that give people access to fun outdoor experiences close to home.
- Expand the use of parks as places for healthy outdoor recreation that contributes to people’s physical, mental, and social well-being.
- Welcome and engage diverse communities through culturally relevant park stories and experiences that are accessible to all.
The students designed creative and practical products that they displayed and explained to Director Jarvis. The students and director also discussed the types of place and activities in national parks that appeal to young people and way they National Park Service can help reconnect kids and nature.
While speaking to the class, Director Jarvis asked how many of the students had never visited a national park. Nearly 70 percent of the students raised their hands.
To the students’ delight, Director Jarvis announced he was making sure every student had the opportunity to visit a National Park. With the support of the National Park Foundation, all 382 members of the Class of 2016 will travel to Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Thursday, May 10. There students and teachers will experience “Sacred Spaces – A Place for Reflection in the Past and Today.”
Hopewell Culture Historical Park features earthen mounds and embankments outlining huge geometric enclosures dot the landscape of the Ohio River Valley. These monumental structures were the work of many Native American hands nearly 2000 years ago. Hopewell people gathered at these earthworks for feasts and funerals, rituals and rites of passage. The NAMS field trip will allow to students to learn first-hand about these sacred spaces and reflect upon the lives of these American Indians.