SPRING HILL — Crews Lake Middle School alumnus Makayla Trowell returned to her old school recently and was honored for helping her school and community to "see the light."
As a student at Crews Lake last year, Trowell harbored a serious concern about the safety of an intersection that fronted her school on Shady Hills Road.
"We were the only school without a flashing light and no 15 mph school zone sign out front," said the 14-year-old Trowell, now a freshman at Springstead High in Hernando County. "I saw cars speeding through places where school buses drove and children walked."
Upon further research, Trowell learned that no fewer than 14 car wrecks had occurred at the intersection during the school year. She was determined to take action — to see the installation of a traffic signal in front of her school.
"A lot of people have great ideas, but they don't fight for these ideas," the Spring Hill resident said. "I believe in fighting for my ideas, to prove people wrong and make things happen."
In her Crews Lake Middle civics class, taught by Michael Smith, Trowell studied up on her rights as a citizen, drawing further inspiration from supportive administrators, including then-principal Adam Kennedy. Putting this knowledge and inspiration to work, she contacted WFLA-Ch. 8 about her concerns. When reporter Leslee Lacey came out to the school to investigate the traffic situation, she made a disturbing finding.
"She clocked drivers going as many as 30 miles over the speed limit," said Trowell.
When Trowell approached the Pasco County School District about the possibility of installing a light in front of the school, she was told it might take three to four years.
"I was not okay with that," she said.
She launched the petition to expedite the installation, sitting in front of the school and at a nearby Sunoco gas station, where the owners encouraged her efforts, and collected nearly 500 signatures. She also met with county Commissioner Jack Mariano, who, after researching the matter, supported her cause.
On Aug. 8, Mariano joined Trowell for a ceremony at Crews Lake, one at which she most literally "saw the light" that she had fought so hard to attain. She stood proudly beside it.
"It was a very amazing feeling, knowing that I was able to use my voice," she said. "I was very happy."
One person not present at the ceremony was Kennedy, the former Crews Lake principal who was killed in a car wreck in January. Yet Trowell said she felt his presence.
Current principal David Huyck had words of praise and encouragement for Trowell.
"I'm a fan of Makayla. She is a principal's dream," Huyck said. "She had an idea, and she followed it through. Then she put it into action. She did it."