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Holy Innocents’ 4th-Graders Bring City Center Ideas to City Hall | Politics

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Holy Innocents’ 4th-Graders Bring City Center Ideas to City Hall
Politics, Schools
Holy Innocents’ 4th-Graders Bring City Center Ideas to City Hall


It wasn’t “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” but it certainly was Holy Innocents’ Goes to City Hall Tuesday night.

Holy Innocents' Episcopal School (HIES)  fourth-graders, along with Lower School Writing Specialist James Barton, paid a visit to the Sandy Springs City Council meeting May 15 to add their voices to those of adult residents and business leaders who have been discussing the creation of a downtown master plan. Representing their classmates, and speaking before the council, were Setareh Khani, Alexa Marcontell, Ansley Nichols Abby Pilkenton, and Freddie Reams.

After scouting sites, taking site pictures and having class discussions, the youngsters came up with lots of ideas and even created a two-minute video. Finally, students officially delivered 76 proposals to Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos wrapped up in a red bow.

“The kids have done an amazing job,” said Barton. “Each proposal was under separate cover, with an executive summary, purpose of proposal, current need analysis, proposed solution and concept description,component list, color aerial schematic, component details list, major community benefits and a conclusion. They were very impressive!”

Students suggested, among other things, that the council consider using the former Target property (which the city purchased for $8 million in 2008) as: a vibrant park and gathering place; a signature city site with gardens, a fountain and a pond; a city landmark with a recognizable symbol like Seattle’s Space Needle; or a multi-use area with shops, a fountain, ornamental benches, open green space and lights.

Whatever the outcome, Abby Pilkenton expressed hope that Sandy Springs will create a city center that eventuallydraws people from many miles around. “It will bring new life to our wonderful city and if people leave they will take a smile with them,” she told City Council members.

Barton got the idea for the project when he was brainstorming ways to get his Lower School students interested in his Persuasive Writing class. “We want to do writing that matters,” he said. “And what better than students writing about their own town? They are the real stakeholders here.”

Sandy Springs city leaders have been working on building a new city center as well as establishing a city identity—“a planning process to transform the downtown area into a more vibrant, business-attractive and family-friendly place,” according to the city website.

Goody Clancy, a firm of 85 architects, preservationists, planners and urban designers based in Boston and Washington, D.C., have been hired to draw up the master plan for Sandy Springs’ downtown.

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