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Cherokee Middle School 'Class of 2016' explore parks
AUGUST 23, 2016 at 5:28 p.m.

cherokee middle school class
Cherokee Middle School Class of 2016 at Ninety Six Historic Site. Image courtesy of GSMNP.


GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK — With the help of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NPS), students at Cherokee Middle School (CMS) have had some interesting experiences in honor of the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial in 2016.

During the last two years, students from the CMS Class of 2016 participated in a diversity of curriculum-based educational experiences that focused on science, history, and Cherokee culture at park units throughout the southeast region.

In North Carolina, students participated in a water quality program, wading into the river to use technological tools to measure pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and other chemical and physical aspects of the river in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Students collected, identified, and recorded aquatic macroinvertebrates and learned the Cherokee legend of the river as Long Man. Students also hiked to the summit of Clingmans Dome using the bypass trail where they learned about the significance of the site in Cherokee history and the spruce-fir ecosystem.

In Tennessee, students had an opportunity to participate on an 11-mile bike ride through Cades Cove. The group of cyclists included students, rangers, teachers, coaches, and community members. Several of the participants are members of the Remember the Removal bike team which rides 850 miles from North Carolina to Oklahoma as a remembrance of ancestors who were forced to walk on the Trail of Tears.

Students also traveled to Ninety-Six National Historic Site in South Carolina which is noted for its Revolutionary War history. The site is also the location of several key events in Cherokee history. Students met with a reenactor for a munition demonstration, took a walking tour of the battlefield, explored the museum, played a game to learn about flora and fauna native to the area, journaled about their experiences, and stamped their NPS Passport books.

In March 2016, students went on a 4-day trip visiting Cherokee cultural and historical sites throughout NC, TN, and GA. The journey began with a special ceremony at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Smokies including tribal elders, school board members, park rangers, school administrators, and representatives from the NC Trail of Tears Association who presented the class with a special set of the state specific NPS Trail of Tears folios. Many of the sites visited were part of the NPS Trail of Tears National Historic Trail including Great Smoky Mountain National Park, New Echota State Historic Site, Red Clay State Historic Park, and the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. At each of these sites the students stamped NPS Passport books.

As these students enter high school this fall, students will continue to partner with Great Smoky Mountains National Park through field trips, in-class programs, and citizen science projects through the Seeking Paths in Nature program supported by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. To learn more about the park’s resource education programs, visit

Published August 23, 2016

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