In 1993 and 1994, the Fairview School District received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to build an environment study area on the school property which was a project led by Larry D. Kessler. The area chosen by the school was the area of trees between Fairview High School and Route 98. This area was chosen since there were a variety of environmental regions in that small area. Some examples of these environmental regions include swamps, forests, and meadows. The money received from the grant was used to build an observation deck in the south part of the area to overlook the more swampy area. From there, a trail was built extending from the south to the north. Name plates which were used to label bushes, trees, and wildflowers found naturally growing were then placed along this trail. Other projects completed on the trail during this time include building a small amphitheater for teachers to use as an open classroom for students and building benches along the trail for people to use to sit and relax while in the quiet space of the trail. The trail and classroom were used by teachers for a few years, but when Larry D. Kessler left the school district in 1997, the usage of the trail gradually decreased. Between the years of 1997 and 2004, things on the trail like markers and benches slowly deteriorated. However, during the years of 2004 and 2005, when Larry D. Kessler returned to the school district, the trail was resurrected. Finally in 2009, when Larry D. Kessler retired, the Tiger Trail was dedicated in his honor. Upon his retirement, several people gave honorariums to the trail in his recognition. Now, the trail is a useful supplement to curriculum for teachers who use it to deepen a student's understanding of a topic involving nature. Members of the community can also use the trail for exercise and passive recreation.
On October 15th 2012, Larry D. Kessler returned to Fairview for the dedication of the Larry D. Kessler Tiger Trail. Members of the school board, administrators, teachers, staff, Boy Scouts, and students attended this event to share ways in which they have used the trail. Also, the Fairview Middle School Friends of Rachel Club presented a surprise by establishing a scholarship fund in Larry D. Kessler's name to be awarded to a student in the graduating class of 2017. Mr. Kessler served the Fairview School District for 31 years as a social studies teacher, coach, high school principal, and superintendent. The new trailhead was marked near McCray Road just west of the high school tennis courts. Currently, the original observation deck is still intact, and improvements along the trail include, an outdoor classroom, bat houses, bird houses, a rain garden, geocaches, benches, and signage.
The district embraces Larry Kessler’s vision and is working to expand the trail into one continuous three mile loop that encompasses the entire district. Our aesthetically beautiful campus and ecologically rich environment enhance the educational experience for our students and creates a valuable resource for our community. The district is very proud to have the trail named after Mr. Kessler who dedicated so many years to providing quality educational programs to the students of the Fairview School District.
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