The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 22, 2013

Jo Ellis: Fourth-graders opine on Carthage park

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A few weeks ago, our mail carrier brought a manila envelope to our door, wondering if the contents might pertain to me. The address was simply Kellogg Lake, on Easterly Drive. Even though we live on Old Route 66 Boulevard, it was a good guess because being secretary-treasurer for the Kellogg Lake Nature Center, I do get a lot of mail addressed to Kellogg Lake.

When I opened it, I was delighted to find a packet of letters written by fourth-grade pupils in Tammy Davison’s class at Columbian Elementary School. Tammy had given them an assignment to go to our website to learn about Kellogg Lake Park and how geography affects people living in the community.

Their letters were written to “Joe,” not “Jo,” but I presume they got that name from the website, which was created by my son, Joe. They introduced themselves and explained that their teacher had asked them to express their opinions and ideas on how Kellogg Lake Park could best benefit the community.

Cassidy says we “need to have some restrooms there, more shade trees, and have a playground there too.” I agree wholeheartedly, Cassidy.

Landens writes: “Other people like the lake so much that there is always somebody there. I think the side with more trees should be for animals and the other side for fishing or eating.” He was very emphatic that there should be “NO feeding of animals.”

Yany, who prints very neatly, says, “I think we should make people stop fishing so there could be many more fish again.” I’m afraid, Yany, that many people would disagree with that. Many Carthage residents have a lot of fun fishing there, and even cook and eat their catch. Maybe we could just grow more fish.

I’m in a quandary as to how we could please both Hannah and Gracie. Hannah would like to see all the land combined “so we could have more space.” But Gracie thinks it should not be so big. Because it’s so big, she says, “It brings more visitors and affects the environment. I think they should not allow visitors. Why? Because animals, plants, fish and birds can die. I think they could make it a zoo. If they can make one without hurting the animals.”

Luke has rather grandiose but good ideas. He would like to see a lodge, campsites and a lake exhibit. “If that lodge costs too much, you can have a campsite instead and rent the little lots out to campers,” he says. “If you don’t have an exhibit you need to get one. You may ask why? Because you don’t have one. Why? So people will know more about the lake. For instance, like how much was it. Was it $9,000 for 22 acres? Thank you for reading my letter and I look forward to bringing my family down to your campsite in the future.” I think Luke is going to be a businessman or a diplomat in the future.

Kennedy even drew an illustration of his very specific ideas: “more trees, less traffic so birds and animals don’t fly away or get scared, picnic tables, trash bins and a boat house filled with a lot of canoes so people can fish from canoes. I love canoeing.”

Garrett (and I hope I didn’t misspell your name) had visited the lake and loved the cool, nice environment there. “The only problem is the water moccasins,” he says. “I almost got bit. I wish all those gross, scary, weird snakes were all gone. Those things can kill you in one hour.” He would like to visit more often, but he is “just too busy.”

On the other hand, Bryan loved the photos on the website that were taken when Peter Gros, of “Wild Kingdom,” visited Kellogg Lake several years ago and brought some exotic animals, including a boa constrictor. That impressed Bryan. “I’m hoping that we can have the (same) events where they were touching the animals,” he writes. Me too, Bryan.

Yasny suggests some new ideas, like putting in a statue or a fountain. Have we got some news for you, Yasny ... but that will have to wait for a later date. I think I gave your class a little hint in the reply I sent to you last week. And remember, your class was the first to know.

I was impressed by Ethan’s use of the word “colleagues.” I didn’t know fourth-graders even knew that word. He noted that Kellogg Lake is “a wonderful part of Carthage geography,” and thanked us for taking the time to read the youngsters’ opinions. What a gentleman.

Sydnee was, perhaps, the most specific in his suggestions, calling for nine acres of the park to be turned into a water park called Kellogg’s Magnificent Park of Water Fun. He says 11 acres could feature paddle boating, and the remaining two acres could be turned into a food/recreation center called Kellogg’s Fishie Fuyta with a menu of “fish, burgers, and other things like that. Well, that takes up all 22 acres,” Sydnee concluded, signing off as “Your fishie friend.” I have no idea what a Fuyta is, but it sounds intriguing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the scope and inventiveness of these fourth-grade “park planners,” and I thank them for their effort. Their letters showed a concern for all flora, fauna and the environment. I also appreciate Tammy’s effort to bring her students into the 21st century by making them comfortable with the Internet. The class has its own website where it can post comments about the subjects studied and projects undertaken.

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

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