Seven Springs Middle Sidewalk Accomplishment Celebrated
Students who pursued long-sought sidewalk recognized at ribbon cutting
Zoe Pappas and Danielle Kuehner stood Tuesday on a stretch of shared-use path on Little Road that didn’t exist when they were enrolled at nearby Seven Springs Middle School in the 2008-09 school year.
The two were among the students in a service learning class who led an effort to get sidewalks on busy Little Road in Trinity. Now, long after they graduated to high school, their dream is on the road to completion.
For the past several months, Pasco County has been installing a shared-use path, wider than a sidewalk so bikes can be ridden on it, on the west side of Little Road. The project, which also includes a stretch of path on Mitchell Boulevard, is close to being officially done.
So on Tuesday, Kuehner, Pappas and two students who picked up the torch on the project this school year were joined by county commissioners, school district officials and a state senator to cut the ribbon on the path.
“When we initially presented our idea to the class, everyone was a little skeptical that we would be able to do it,” said Pappas, who is now in 11th grade with Kuehner at adjoining Mitchell High. “But here we are…years later with our dream come true.”
A Dream Begins
Kuehner, Pappas and fellow student Chelsi Mackin were in the Lead the Pack elective taught at Seven Springs Middle by Cynthia Tehan. They started the effort to get sidewalks on Little Road in late 2008. The three students had noticed that their classmates had to walk in the grass on the side of the road to get to nearby shopping centers and neighborhoods.
They asked for assistance from State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. He came to the class and advised them it was a county issue, and he wrote a letter to county officials in support of the students’ efforts.
In 2009, the three students went to a meeting of the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which consists of county commissioners and representatives from the county's municipalities.
Progress came bit by bit, with funding approved for the project and money requested from the federal Safe Routes to Schools program to pay for the effort.
The county commission approved a planning agreement on Nov. 16, 2010, that authorized officials to move forward with the design and construction.
Then the project hit delays, and construction didn't happen.
Passing the Torch
At the beginning of the current school year, Pappas spoke to Tehan about the project. Tehan asked the current Lead the Pack class if anyone would pick up the torch on the effort.
Eighth-graders Luccas Borges and Matthew Sandoval volunteered, going to the county commission in December to ask for a timeline. The project was bid out the month before, and prep work began in January.
“Personally, I feel a tremendous sense of achievement having been involved in a project that will have a positive and lasting effect on this exceptional community, in which I have lived and studied for the past 7 years,” Borges said in a speech.
At a ceremony at Seven Springs Middle before the ribbon-cutting Tuesday, Pasco School District Superintendent Heather Fiorentino praised the students. So did commissioners Henry Wilson and Jack Mariano.
Fasano also gave his 2 cents.
“”Regardless of what age, you must get involved,” he said to an audience of students and parents. And not only get involved, he emphasized, but advocate for what they believe in.
“That’s what these kids did,” he said.
Tehan is retiring from the Pasco school District at the end of this month. She said the project’s completion, “makes me feel like I saw the students make a difference.”