• As Andrews High School student Hailey Burch pours mulch out of a wheelbarrow, classmates Mackenzie Stalcup (left) and Emily Mealer spread the mulch at Ferebee Park.
    As Andrews High School student Hailey Burch pours mulch out of a wheelbarrow, classmates Mackenzie Stalcup (left) and Emily Mealer spread the mulch at Ferebee Park.

SCOUTING AROUND: Students work hard to clean up Andrews

    When they were little, Emily Kilpatrick’s freshman class used to love playing on the playground at Ferebee Park. They didn’t see kids using the park like they once did. So, they decided to do something about it. The students were out early Saturday morning, spreading new mulch as volunteers from Lowe’s power washed the equipment.
    “We want to make it a place that welcomes kids, where kids can have fun,” Andrews High freshman Mackenzie Stalcup said.
    For the students, the project was part of Andrews High School’s Day of Caring. All 16 homerooms in the school volunteered throughout town to give back to the community, which Principal Dr. Lisa Fletcher said is very supportive of the school. Homerooms came up with their own project, and each project was student-led, including making arrangements with the Town of Andrews or the organization they wished to help.
    “I want the students to become leaders,” Fletcher said.
    Fletcher said the day of volunteer service was based off of the United Way’s Day of Caring.
    Kilpatrick said the excitement and drive to serve the community she saw in her students was nothing like she’s seen anywhere else in her career. She thinks part of it has to do with being raised in a small town.
    “They are raised to serve others,” Kilpatrick said. “They show these traits we value.”
    Fletcher said her students realize they are fortunate, and they showed they were thankful.
    “Our town does so much for us, it’s the right thing to do,” Stalcup said.
    For the Ferebee Park project, Mayor James Reid connected the students with Lowe’s, which was already planning to give the park a makeover for its Lowe’s Heroes project. Lowe’s volunteers planned to spend the week (possibly next week, too) improving the park by repainting the merry-go round, fixing tables, improving signage, and adding landscaping.
    Tony Williams, Lowe’s commercial sales specialist, said he was grateful for help from the students as many of the store’s regular volunteers were unable to participate as they were already volunteering for hurricane relief efforts.
    Stalcup enjoyed her role of using a shovel to even out mulch poured on the ground by her classmates.
    “It feels great,” Stalcup said. “I’ve never really done anything like this before. It’s fun.”

Little library expands access
    Martins Creek Elementary/Middle School now has two libraries to serve its students. The newest library is in a little cupboard, sitting outside school that children in the community can access at any time to exchange books.
    The little library was a project of the local Modern Woodmen of America chapter, which sponsors a youth club at the school. It was installed outside the school before the summer break.
    “We give back and do a lot of volunteer activity in the area,” said Linda May, the local agent and youth club leader for the school.
    She saw the little library as a worthwhile idea since it’s not as easy for children to get to a library outside of Murphy or Andrews.
    “We chose to do it out there, just because it is a need, as far out as Martins Creek is,” May said.
    May said she would like to see little libraries at all the outlining schools in the county, but started at Martins Creek since she is the leader there.
    The library was primarily built by May’s uncle who has a woodshop, and did not want recognition for his work.
    “This just fell into his area of expertise,” May said.
    The books to start the library were extra books that a parent had donated to the school’s main library. School librarian Elyse Watras also sent out a call to parents about the project.
    “I thought that was a great opportunity,” Watras said. “I think any time you can put literature in children’s hands ... you are opening more doors to them.”
    She said there are some students who do not get exposed to books at home, and the little library makes having books at home more accessible.
    “It’s out there, and the parents see it as they go through the drop-off and pick-up line,” Watras said.
    May said she has noticed the books rotating through the library’s box, and even noticed a few appropriate videos added. She said Principal Paul Wilson, Watras, the third grade teachers and other staff members have expressed their appreciation for the little library.
    May hopes to be able to work with Peachtree, Ranger or Hiwassee Dam schools soon to give those students their own little library.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message at 837-5122.