Kids on the Hill

It's amazing to see after all of the hard work, but kids are using the amphitheater. The entire school went up and filled only half! What an amazing day for teachers, kids and dads!!

Background -- For those of you that don't know, there is a stone amphitheater that is up on the hill behind Hoover. It was originally built in the 1940s, and then refurbished in the 70s. Many of you participated in our effort to build a path up to the amphitheater and clean out the overgrown weeds. We developed a reasonable path, through it is steep in a couple of areas. The next logic step was to put in stairs that would make getting up there easier.

The rains came, which was a bit of a deterrent, but the real stopper was when a fence, with a locked gate, was put up around the entire school. Once that went up, we had to seek a somewhat more formal approval process before we could really get the amphitheater turned into something that the school could use.

Getting Approval -- With the fence in place, it became necessary to get approval for what we are doing. I spoke with Lisa Booth (our principal), and she likes the idea of getting area accessible. Also, I spoke with Maggie MacIsaac, our superintendent, and she thought that it was a good idea, with some caveats.

The Agreement -- In talking with Maggie and Lisa, this is the Phase I idea of what we can do:

  • We can build steps to make the amphitheater path more accessible, but it has to be a "Dads Club" project done with Dad labor. That means that we cannot contract to have the work done. If money changes hand for labor, it becomes an entirely different proposition.
  • The steps we build have to be trail-like. We can use wood and gravel (think railroad ties) to build the steps, but not anything that would be difficult to remove (which means no cement).
  • Kids, under the supervision of their teacher, can go up there, provided that the parents have provided approval using a field-trip form. Since it isn't really a school facility (which would have to be ADA compliant), a field-trip form would allow access. It could be filled out once over the course of the year and kept on file.
  • No power will be run to the area. Any amps or speakers would have to be battery powered. Alternatively, the sound could be played acoustically or lectured in a loud voice.
  • Lisa will lead an effort with teachers and parents to come up with a vision for how the area could be used. Ideas could be nature studies, lectures on a nice day, outdoor reading, informal music concerts and many other ideas.

Our Plan -- So the first step is to get the steps built. We figured that it would be about 50 steps total -- 30 steps on the lower section and 20 just as you are getting to the amphitheater. Daniel O'Dwyer will be leading the effort. We are going to build a few prototype steps so that we can develop a design. That will be a training session, and at some later point, we will have a larger work party where we all come out put the steps in.

One firm rule about the building -- There are to be no kids in the work area when we are building the steps. It will be difficult enough managing the adults while we are putting this all together. If there are kids running around, grabbing tools and horsing around, it will make it much more likely that someone could get hurt.

When will it all happen? -- It depends on the weather. We probably need a couple of weeks for the ground to dry out somewhat. I will keep you all posted as things get firmed up.