A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday to officially open a new yet-to-be-named trail at Gastineau Elementary School. Teacher Dirk Miller said students at the Douglas school have been working to construct the trail over the last three years with the help of local businesses and organizations.
In April businesses such as Valley Lumber and Good Hardware donated supplies to build a small bridge over a creek that flows near where the trail was constructed behind the elementary school’s play yard. In addition to students at Gastineau, kids attending the Juneau Community Charter School also had a hand in the construction. Those in attendance Thursday included Mayor Bruce Botelho, Alaska Education Commissioner Mike Hanley, Juneau School Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich, SAGA volunteers, members of Admiralty Construction, Bartlett Construction, to name a few, and a host of Gastineau students.
Miller said the history of the trail goes back nearly 13 years when Physical Education Teacher Ethel Smith was taking students cross country skiing on the trail whenever conditions allowed. Now complete, the trail stretches nearly quarter mile and includes a bridge and culvert over a stream.
A special trophy was presented to Peter Cross, who Miller said was one of the “guiding forces” behind the creation of the trail. It was a trophy made out of a large root ball that students spent more than an hour trying to remove from the ground. It’s call the Perseverance Trophy and at the ceremony Thursday it was accepted by Cross’ 9-year-old daughter, Keegan Cross.
And while the trail does not yet have an official name, Miller said he hopes to honor local Native cultures by perhaps choosing a Tlingit name that means “childrens’ path.”