Holton Middle School students (from left) Bailey Kathrens, Emberlee Allen, Jack Etzel and Marley Gilliland, all members of the school’s Kansas Association for Youth (KAY) chapter, recently filled in the dirt around a swamp white oak tree, planted with the help of Holton city employees, at Holton’s Countryside Park. The tree-planting was heralded as the KAY chapter’s last part of its park improvement plan, which began with fund-raising for construction of the park’s concrete fitness path.

KAY Club finishes park work

Yesterday morning saw a group of four Holton Middle School students joining with City of Holton employees to plant and secure a swamp white oak tree on the west side of Holton’s Countryside Park in honor of the late Floye Knouft.

For the middle schoolers, members of the Kansas Association for Youth chapter — the KAYs — at HMS, planting the tree was the final achievement of the chapter’s efforts, begun more than three years ago, to do its part to make the park a point of pride in the Holton community.

For KAY sponsor Erika Allen, the planting of the tree represented what the seed of an idea can grow into.

“When we first started talking about it, it was just this little bitty idea,” Allen said. “It’s bloomed into something that’s going to be here for a long time.”

It’s also something that the HMS students who have been involved with the project can be proud of, she said.

“These kids are going to remember it for a long time,” Allen said, pointing to her daughter, Emberlee, and HMS students Bailey Kathrens, Jack Etzel and Marley Gilliland, who were present on Tuesday morning to oversee the planting of the tree.

But the work the KAY chapter at HMS has put into the planting of the tree is a merely a small part of what they’ll remember. It all started in January of 2018 when Allen and an earlier group of HMS students approached the Holton City Commission with tentative plans for a fitness path at the park, located at the city’s southern edge.

Not long after that first visit to the city commissioners, it was reported that the KAYS had received a $25,000 Healthy Lifestyles Grant from the Topeka Community Foundation for construction of part of the fitness path. 

With some other grants — particularly “Be The Spark” grant funds from a partnership between the Kansas Association for Youth Alumni Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas — and donations for the fitness path, and the pledge of in-kind labor from Holton city employees, the path was built to circle the perimeter of the park with help from Holton Parks and Recreation Director Mike Reichle and his crew.

The path earned the praise of city officials, as well as Holton area residents who utilize the path on a regular basis.

To read the rest of the article, subscribe to The Holton Recorder.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Greer Citizen newsletter feed