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North Middle students take ‘Nature’s Children’ trip to Pilot Mountain

Students from North Rowan middle and elementary schools took a day off last week to explore the steep cliffs and lush forests of Pilot Mountain.

Angelia Fleming’s seventh-grade AIG class was the driving force behind the field trip, planning, advertising and raising money for the opportunity. The class partnered with a fifth-grade class from North Rowan Elementary School, giving younger students and opportunity to breathe in the high mountain air.

Seventh-grader Jordan Feaster who came up with the idea for a program that would help students explore national parks and monuments. While the dream wasn’t able to get off the ground in time for students to make it to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — the closest national park to North Rowan — the group planned to visit a state park instead.

On Oct. 18, students poured out of buses and into the woods at Pilot Mountain State Park to learn about nature, the history of the park and the animals that call it home. Many had never been to the mountains or a state or national park before. Fleming said roughly 50 students from both schools took the trip.

“They were humming with energy. It was an amazing day,” she said.

When the group returned to the school, Fleming had her students write short reflective essays on the trip. Students wrote about the fun they had, how much they enjoyed showing the park to younger students and their desire to expand or continue such visits in coming years.

Below are a few of their thoughts:

• Daphne Robinson: “Pilot Mountain was amazing. The one thing that kind of freaked me out was the height of the mountain, because we were like 200 feet. It was so high, you could feel the wind. … For me, that is an amazing sight, especially for a seventh-grader. I was taking in the luscious green and other beautiful colors. I hope we get to go to a national park next year.”

• Ernesto Sanchez-Medina: “I was really surprised on how beautiful the view was as soon as we got there. I felt like I could see the entire world from up there! I was originally very afraid of heights, but when I looked past the fence, I wasn’t afraid of anything.”

• Angie Perez: “Being able to come to this mountain gave you many opportunities to bond with the other students. Walking together with someone or taking pictures as a whole group or of the scenery can make you feel closer to the people around you while learning new things. It truly does make you realize how beautiful nature really is.”

• Charles Brucker: “I saw smiles on everyone’s face, including mine. This was a way to make me feel free.”

• Evan Davis: “The nature of Pilot Mountain is very peaceful and calm, full of nature and plants unique to it. Pilot Mountain had great lookout points, a cool back story and peaceful trails. … The rocks are still, the leaves blow slightly, a cool breeze blows through the air, the sun is the only heat you’ll get. You’re so far up, everything looks like toys; trees are as small as Legos; people are so tiny they look like pebbles. … This place is quiet, peaceful and serene. It feels like a dream, like nothing can hurt you, and it’s so amazing you wouldn’t believe it’s real or true.”

• Fares Khatib: “This was the best trip of my life! We went on an adventure throughout the forest and climbed rocks, took amazing pictures and videos, learned about the animals, and I got to see a woodpecker for the first time.”

• Hannia Aguilar: “I feel like the whole class thinks this was a lifetime experience and had the opportunity to learn about the outside world.”

• Hope Spurlock: “The field trip for me was very fun. I liked how we got to learn about the history of the mountain and about the animals that live there. … When we were hiking, I got to see a lot of the beautiful sights. One of my favorites was the view of the pathway that was lit up by the opening of the trees.”

• Jordan Feaster: “My experience at Pilot Mountain was just magical. Climbing up the mountain and looking up at the sky — it looked like cotton candy with big brown eagles soaring high. Even putting my hand in the Devil’s Den felt as if something was going to reach out and suck me into the dark, cold area. The bones of the animal were so precise, it felt like it would come back to life and snap its jaws closed, as if it was catching prey with its razor-sharp teeth. Overall the experience was just exhilarating. If I could I would do it all over again.”

• Kelly Martinez: “Some of us were terrified of the heights but soon overcame them. At first, I felt dizzy as I walked on the trail next to the drop, which was a huge drop. We walked up and down on the steps. Some of our legs were in extreme pain after enduring the hike. We were more than 1,500 feet in the air.”

• Malakie Harris: “Pilot Mountain was the best trip I have ever taken! … My favorite part was the hike; the scenery was so beautiful. It was so fun — it felt like we were as high as the bird.”

• Noah Williams: “I had so much fun and didn’t want hiking to end. Although the high altitude was a little intimidating and the cold temperatures were chilling, it didn’t really bother me because I was so focused on the view, hiking and beauty of my surroundings. It was also my first time ever going to a mountain, and my visual experience speaks louder than words can. My trip to Pilot Mountain was definitely one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had.”

• Shaddrah Prasad: “When we arrived, we went straight to the ledge to see the astonishing view of the cities and forests below. It was amazing looking down at the horizon that seemed to stretch forever. … I’m not an outdoorsy person, but I really enjoyed the time spent with my class at Pilot Mountain. I got to experience nature like I never had before.”

• Stella Sophia: “It was so stunning, it could take your breath away. … Along with the fresh morning air, the view seemed cleansing, maybe from the modern world or how much technology we use. But it really makes you appreciate the beauty of nature. This trip changed my point of view of nature; it is not something we play on outside or use for products; it is something that is keeping us alive. For millions of years we have relied on nature, so why are we taking it for granted now?”

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