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Students of Molalla River Academy come to the end of the trail they built

Students at Molalla River Academy completed the Dickey Creek Walk trail behind the school after months of clearing brush and learning about trail construction.

MOLALLA, Ore. — With a week left of school at Molalla River Academy, the students aren’t celebrating an end — but rather, a beginning.

“We want them to continue to wonder and have questions,” said Iva Quinlan, the charter school’s assistant director and garden coordinator. “I'm just so thankful that there's a place where I can be a part of, just as a professional educator, that allows experiences like this for kids.”

In November 2021, KGW went out to the school as students worked to clear brush to create the Dickey Creek Walk, a new trail they built behind the campus. The ribbon cutting was on Friday and it was a big moment for Quinlan and the aptly-named “trail blazers.”

“I am very proud of this. I've worked all year on this,” said eighth grader Emma Seubert. “I helped build the second loop and I've helped just maintain it and we form it.”

Students made signs identifying native plants, even the invasive ones. With help from Molalla River Watch, students learned about things like trail grading and drainage throughout the project. As part of a legacy project, seventh and eighth graders are building benches and picnic tables to place near Dickey Creek along the trail.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

“It was a lot of fun. I'm happy I had this elective,” said fifth grader Jack Butler. “I wonder if we're doing something like this next year. Because I really want to join.”

Quinlan says there are plans to expand the trail next school year. But for now, they’ll enjoy what they’ve accomplished together.

“For years kids have wondered, ‘Why can't we go back there? what is back there?’ and to take their dream and make it a reality gives them a sense of belonging and being a part of something bigger, and to see that completion knowing that, ‘Hey, I can do this, I have a dream, and we can make this work as long as we're all in it together,'” Quinlan said.

RELATED: Let's Get Out There: Blazing a trail with students of Molalla River Academy

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