RICHMOND — The Richmond Town Council has approved a project to create a special path behind Richmond Elementary School. Principal Sharon Martin and Luke Longley, an Eagle Scout candidate with Richmond Troop 1, presented the project at the June 18 council meeting.
The path, which has received approval from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, also required approval from the council, since it will be created on town-owned land.
The “storybook path,” Martin said, would enhance the school’s focus on health and wellness.
“There is the most beautiful pond behind our school that has been maintained by a local Boy Scout troop over the years and folklore has it that many years ago, students used to tap the maple trees,” Martin said. “Now, it’s really not used at all and since we are a health and wellness specialized school, we thought it was a missed opportunity.”
While not very long, the path will provide a new place for children and their teachers to take quick walks during the school day.
“We envisioned transforming the path into one that the kids could actually use for walking during the day when we encourage teachers to have kids take a brain break and exercise,” Martin said. “Teachers have been walking around the building and taking kids for walks around the soccer field, but it’s a really beautiful space, a little bit small, but it’s just enough time to take the kids out, walk the loop and get back into the building.”
Along the path, posts stands will be erected, each one holding a page of a story that the children will read as they progress around the loop.
Martin began planning the project last year, finding out how much it would cost to make the path safe for children.
“Digging up some roots that were exposed and putting some roping, some guidance for kids near the water, shoring up two of the bridges to make sure the bridges are secure,” she said.
The landscaping will cost about $1,200. After a grant application to cover the cost of the improvements was turned down, Martin asked the PTO for help.
“They agreed to pay for the landscaping costs and they recommended that I hook up with the Boy Scouts, which I did,” she said.
Longley, a former Richmond Elementary student, is building the stands for the story pages as an Eagle Scout project. He also raised $500 for the materials.
“We’ve been meeting all school year to decide what we want the design to look like,” Martin said. “I sent Luke out to Tuckertown Park in South Kingstown to look at their path and put him in touch with the director of recreation in South Kingstown, who helped him with the design and recommendations for the materials.”
The school has selected several health and wellness-themed stories which will be changed every couple of months. Each story will be broken into 12 pages, displayed on the stands.
“We would also like to encourage students to do some storybook writing and showcase their work,” Martin said.
The timing of the completion of the storybook path will depend on the progress on the school’s entrance redesign, which began on June 18.
“We can’t have anyone back in that space because of the project,” Martin said. “It’s just a matter of getting the landscaping company in there and then installing the posts.”
Martin said she was looking forward to having students and their teachers visit and appreciate the path around the pond.
“It’s a really pretty spot,” she said. “It’s like a hidden gem.”