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IMS students explore great outdoors

After her hot dog lunch during Ironton Middle School's field trip to Lake Vesuvius on Friday, sixth-grader Alex Taylor was feeling reflective.

She had just completed a nature hike at the Wayne National Forest and had emerged with a new appreciation of the great outdoors.

"You can look at it, but you can't touch things and the animals that live in an environment; you shouldn't mess with their environment, because you wouldn't like somebody messing with the environment that you live in," Alex said. "You should just leave it there, because it's there for a reason."

Raye Ann Maines, a science teacher with Ironton Middle School, envisioned the outing as a reward for the students for doing well on their proficiency testing.

Maines' frustration with the testing was even hinted at by her choice of hot dogs as the chow for the event.

"I got really frustrated with them one day," Maines said with a slightly embarrassed grin, "and they wouldn't fill in the short answers, so I told them they were a bunch of weenies. So they asked if they did well on the proficiency test if we could have a weenie roast."

Aside from filling bellies, Maines hoped the day would fill minds. Before they took in their hot dogs, they took in the sights and sounds of nature during a hike. It is important, Maines said, to get her students into the wild whenever she can.

"They need to appreciate what we have here, and what nature is," Maines said. "Some of these kids don't ever get out to do this kind of stuff. I'm an outdoors person, and to me it's really important that they get out and see it, and they can appreciate it, and they can learn how to take care of it."

Maines' plan for blending fun and education seemed to be working, if sixth-grader Hannah Wilkes was any indication.

"My favorite thing about it was going to the Rock House because it was made out of sedentary rocks, which are made of sand and stuff."

Sixth-grader Andy Holtzapfel said that the trip to the Rock House was their favorite part of the day also, but for slightly different reasons.

"We went to the cave and slid down the rocks and stuff," Holtzapfel said. "We climbed on them and everything, it was cool."