The Wickliffe community and neighbors are celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Wickliffe Wolves and commemorating the dedication of the Hirschi Trace. They are reminding students and teachers about the role Ron Hirschi played in having the wolf be the Wickliffe School mascot. The Wickliffe Wolf statute was donated by the Hirschi Trace founding committee. Andrea Waite (a former Wickliffe student) has an original Ron Hirschi book with an inscription from the author. She was inspired by Ron’s love of wild animals and this helped her pursue her dream of owning her Madison County horse farm. They hope that some students, teachers, and parents will gather around one of the yellow Hirschi Trace signs in Fancyburg Park to celebrate the anniversary.
Wickliffe School Wolf and Ron Hirschi
Part of environmentalist Ron Hirschi’s work was to save the wild wolves out west. Students supported his work by an art auction that raised enough money to pay for the dramatic wolfe statute in Wickliffe School’s front yard. It is in the northwest corner, next to a beautiful plaza. Students felt that the Hirschi Trace path to the Scioto River linked them to Montana. They knew an old Indian trail followed the Scioto down to the Ohio River. Vestiges of the trail can be seen in the Scioto Trails State Park south of Columbus. Following the Ohio River, students knew they could turn upstream at the Missouri River and end up in Bozeman Montana. Wickliffe students raised enough money to have a simlar Trace built in Montana. Quite an accomplishment.
One Wickliffe student, Andrea Waite, had an especially close relationship with Ron Hirschi. He gave her an autographed copy of his book, with a personal inscription that said “ Brad/Connie have this inscription” (also title of book. Andrea’s love of nature was so inspired by Hirschi, that she now has a horse ranch/farm in Madison County. Andrea said, recently, that Ron Hirschi “…opened my eyes to the possibility that I could have a dream and follow it.”
Email from Ron Hirschi (dated May 14, 2015)
I was deeply honored to have a trail created in my name after working for quite some time with the Wickliffe School Community. This is truly sacred space, the pathway from the school to the Scioto. River. I remember when older students took kindergarteners by the hand and with stop watches, timed how long it took those little legs to cross the busy street (Riverside Drive) leading to the river.
And, for sure, I remember how the path traced through Fancyburg Park. A park that was once a pumpkin patch that was eventually donated for a city park, providing it be given its current name. I never met the gentleman who grew the pumpkins and gave them to kids, but imagine he must have been quite the guy.
Kids at Wickliffe inspired me to help literally thousands of other children across the US, mainly because they cared well beyond the usual. Their teachers, parents, and others in the community supported all that is right with our country and our future, teaching compassion for the world.
I remember a special, tiny moment at the edge of Fancyburg Park. I don’t remember the boy’s name, but he and were looking closely at life in and around an old stump, a piece of the past forest, the old tree world. We found some beetles and ants and he jumped back and exclaimed, “This is the best thing I have ever seen in my whole life!”
If we can preserve and protect places like Fancyburg, then there is hope for the future.
Diane Driessen May 2015 Interview
Diane knew of Ron Hirschi and was instrumental in getting him to come to Wickliffe Elementary School. He also helped build some gardens at St. Agatha. Diane is certain that City Council passed a resolution recognizing the Hirschi Trace and allowing signs to be attached to UA City property pointing out the trail through the center of the park. Dr. Diane Driesen was the Wickliffe School Librarian. She emailed 3 photos of Ron Hirschi and Wickliffe students in Fancyberg Park. (not included here)
Peggy Harrison May 2015 Interview
Peggy Harrison was the teacher who organized the environmental study program at Wickliffe School. She said “We worked with the Upper Arlington Senior Center. We had four Wickliffe School classes involved. Channel 10 sent out a TV crew. We had a booth at Kingsdale Shopping Center and a petition UA citizens were asked to sign to end pollution in the Scioto River. We found all kinds of deformed fish.”
Our class also petitioned Ohio Department of Transportation to study and change the duration of the traffic light at Route 33 and Nottingham Road, so that children would be able to cross and complete the Hirschi Trace path. Students did a study to show how much longer it took elementary school children (versus adults) to cross busy Route 33. ODOT changed the traffic light! It is no wonder that Wickliffe Teacher Peggy Harrison was selected as Teacher of the Year! She also took students on a field trip to see the source of the Scioto River in Auglaze and Hardin Counties; where they placed a marker.
from SNP 1992:
Wickliffe Dedicates Hirschi Trace
By Lisa K Zellner
SNP staff writer
May 20, 1992
Hirschi Trace, Wickliffe Elementary School’s link to the Scioto River, is official. Students dedicated the path Friday after a week of study with environmentalist and author Ron Hirschi.
Hirschi has visited the school several times to work with students on environmental projects. Wickliffe students began the pathway project as a memorial to Will Powers, a fellow student who was killed when hit by a car while riding his bike.
The pass route takes walkers from the school through Fancyburg Park across Riverside Drive into Grigg’s Reservoir Dam Park. Bird feeders and bat boxes are distributed along the route where the City has agreed to place signs.
Fifth-graders have spent the last few months leading other classes along the route to point out groups of trees that have been planted and assist them in class studies.
Students are using the path for picnic outings as well as outdoor study projects. Congressman Chalmers Wyley (R – Columbus) and Upper Arlington Mayor Ginny Barney were among guests at the ribbon cutting Friday.
Hirschi, who worked with the students earlier in the week, was ill and did not attend Friday’s dedication.
Caption under the photo accompanying the story: Wickliffe fifth-grader Maggie Bellows show students a sign that will be used to identify Hirschi Trace.