ABINGDON, Va. - It's taken nearly two years but a new recreational trail in Abingdon is beginning to take shape. Besides being just an outdoor experience for residents, it will serve as an outdoor classroom.
An outdoor classroom that's right out the back door of a middle school and Abingdon high school. For years a stretch of land between E.B. Stanley Middle School and Abingdon High School has gone virtually unused; but all of that is soon to change.
The property that is owned by the school system is home to the town's newest walking trail. The Panicello Memorial Trail: an unusual name, but historic.
"The first judge of Abingdon, Judge Johnston, his homestead was called the Panicello and it's located on the trail just up there. His whole family is buried right here behind us," Katie Commender, a Vista worker who's been concentrating on the trail said.
The property has all the makings for not only a stroll in the woods but an excellent outdoor classroom for students. "Since the school owns the property and E.B. Stanley Middle School is on one side and the Abingdon High School is on the other side, it's a perfect place for the kids to come during their classroom time and to incorporate outdoor classroom gardens into their curriculum," she said.
Along with the community, it's students themselves that have been working on the trail with a group called Appalachian Teen Trekkers, or AT Squared. "You're open-minded when you're outdoors. In here you can pay attention but you can't respect what you're learning especially in biology or earth science," Abingdon senior Chaz Owens says.
"I think hopefully that's where teaching is going to go is beyond our walls, because really its real boring inside. It's just tough to get anything across unless you can hold it in your hands, smell it or see it. It doesn't have the same impact," Steve Ahn, biology and earth science teacher concluded.
But meeting deer on your morning walk leaves a lasting impression whether you're a student in an outdoor setting or just on a walk.