Kings River High School students clean up graffiti on popular nature trail

Tuesday, April 30, 2024
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tuesday morning, several high school students from Kings River High School headed out to Lost Lake, a popular nature trail, to clean up the graffiti that plagued the area.

Now when people walk down the trail, they'll notice the difference.

The graffiti has been washed away.

There is a rich and deep cultural history to Lost Lake. For over 5000 years, it's been a sacred site to Native Americans.

"This is where all the tribes in this area would gather for major feasts," said Stephen Morris, the CEO of the Civic Education Center. "They celebrated here with the salmon in the river."

But in some places, graffiti covers up the history along the popular nature trail. It created a distraction from its natural beauty.

"It made me feel that like it's disrespecting the native tribe and disrespecting mother nature on its own," said Isaiah Clayton, a senior at Kings River High School.

Underneath the hot Central California sun, juniors and seniors at Kings River High School took action.

They got to work to make the trail look better.

They were scrubbing, washing, and removing the blight along the trail.

It's part of the students' Civic Engagement Project, to protect and preserve the area.

"We made several trips out here with the kids, surveying, cleaning up trash," said David Kilborn, a teacher at Kings River High School.

Kings River High School is a continuation school that serves kids between 16 to 18- years-old.

Through this project, they are engaged with their community and are taught teamwork and leadership skills.

"These are kids that most people give up on and kind of walk away from," said Morris. "Here you have kids that have found their purpose, found their voice, that sense of agency. They're doing something to change their environment."

These students don't let labels define them. While the work was hard and challenging, it was a fulfilling experience.

They want to show people that anyone and everyone can make a difference where they live.

"We were never recognized until today," said Clayton. "So that means, we did all this hard work basically to not only give back to our community, but it also helps us to feel good about ourselves and what we did."

School leaders are proud of the work they've been doing.

"We have to work together to be responsible if we want to see the country get better and improve," said Morris. "It's not that this country is ever perfect. It's becoming more perfect."

Because taking action is about also about collaboration.

The work for these students continues beyond washing out the graffiti.

The students will then make wooden signs to be posted along the trail, which will explain the cultural significance of Lost Lake.

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