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Nature’s Children — North Middle students travel to Smoky Mountain National Park

Two years ago, Mrs. Angie Fleming assigned her students at North Rowan Middle School an essay on national parks. Jordan Feaster wrote hers about a fictional lady who sent kids all around the world to national parks. The concept in Jordan’s essay was called “Nature’s Children,” and her english class decided they would be nature’s children.

This fall, after two years of planning, 24 students traveled to Smoky Mountain National Park, where three days packed in activities, including climbing Mount Mitchell, hiking waterfalls, and holding snakes.

With Fleming’s guidance, the kids researched where to stay and applied for a grant for the 4H camp. Kids organized packing lists and shower schedules. Kids planned the budget and arranged all the activities.

Fleming registered surprise that all the students arrived on time, at 6:15 a.m. on the appointed day of departure. Despite having to switch buses three times, they made it to their destination.

While students disagreed on what the best part of the trip was, they all agree it was a success.

Abbey Beam said, “I’m excited I got to bond with my classmates. We don’t really get an opportunity to bond with each other, except during classwork. This was a chance to bond and have a real Smoky Mountain experience.”

On the first day, the students visited a rope course where they worked together to complete all the goals. Fares Khatib recalls, “We made a chain of people and we all had to climb through a tire. We couldn’t break the chain. We did a lot of cool stuff, but my favorite was this one.”

Jeslyn Nuñez liked the nature center. “They said they were going to pass around a snake and I was like, ‘I am not going to do this.’ But everyone else did it so I decided, ‘OK, I will try it.’ I held it! But I had tears because I was so scared.”

Fleming says she’s had kids on field trips to Dan Nicholas and other destinations, but has never had a group of so many who were willing to hold a snake.

Omar Witherspoon says he’ll remember the trip because he doesn’t travel often. “My favorite activities were archery, riflery and the museum. The campfire was pretty fun, too. Some people sang songs. When I grow up, I’m pretty sure I’ll remember the cabins, too. I slept better there than at home.”

Malachi won’t forget Omar’s alarm clock going off at 5 a.m. and everyone trying to turn it off. Another thing he liked, he says, “Was when we did the flag at the beginning of the day and the end of the day. We got a couple of minutes to calm down and think about our day. I really liked that.”

Evan Davis enjoyed the independence of the trip. “This was a goal because you don’t have your parents there to watch after you – so you have to watch for yourself. It felt self-important. I was in charge of what I wanted to do – no restrictions other than the counselors.”

Before the trip, Samaya Perry said she was a little scared of getting lost and being away from her mom for four days. Afterward, she says it worked out. “I’m always with my mother. I was scared. It turned out good because I was with all my friends. It was an opportunity to bond. We made a closer connection. I would definitely do it again.”

Fleming says the students worked hard and rose to the challenge. She received compliment after compliment on how respectful and attentive the students were, and how kind they were to each other.

The next step? The class wants to figure out how to help other classes have this experience – as Nature’s Children.

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