NEW PORT RICHEY — Remember these kids?
Matt Nuzzo and Jake Ponce de Leon, students in a Lead the Pack community service class at Seven Springs Middle School, were concerned about the safety of some Florida and migratory birds. They were featured in Top of the Class (Providing Safe Passage, Jan. 30) for their efforts to get "Sandhill Crane Crossing" traffic signs posted on a couple of local roads.
Turns out, Mike and Jake got their way.
On March 14, Jake, Matt and the other students in the Lead the Pack class got together with their teacher Cindy Tehan, principal David Salerno, County Administrator John Gallagher and a few others to celebrate and take a picture in front of one of the four new yellow "Wildlife area" signs that were recently erected on the birds' behalf on Mitchell Boulevard and Little Road.
The signs, which warn motorists about the wandering birds frequenting the area, came about after a couple of students' calls got the attention of state Sen. Mike Fasano. He forwarded the students' request for signs to Gallagher and County Commissioner Anne Hildebrand, who then got things moving.
Gallagher said he was pleased with the results but still would prefer to see "Sandhill Crane Crossing" signs.
"I think the wildlife signs are a little boring," he said.
But, as it turns out, a regulation prohibits specific "Sandhill Crane Crossing" signs on public roads. So the kids and Gallagher had to settle for the simple "Wildlife" variety.
That was okay, especially since their former principal, Chris Christoff, made sure that three "Sandhill Crane Crossing" signs were installed on the Seven Springs campus before he left to become principal at Crews Lake Middle School.
"I am so happy that in the schools they are watching out for the environment," Gallagher said last week. "It's really starting to tell that the younger generation really cares about the planet."
"I think this is fantastic," said Tehan. "I'm so proud of the students, that they had an idea and ran with it. Let's face it, kids this age think they have no influence in government and they don't vote. I hope we can change that with classes like these."
That could very well happen, said Jake, if kids just persevere.
"I'm just a kid. I can't vote. Nobody cares what I think," said Matt. "To be honest, that's what we thought in the beginning.
"Not any more."