Take A Stroll With Bartleby: EHS students working with tourism department on walking tour

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Understanding the heart and soul of Historic Downtown Elizabethton has allowed three Elizabethton High School students to take the lead on a project to benefit up-and-coming generations.
EHS students Jared Grindstaff, Kira Dillard and Lawson Wagner are part of the inaugural Bartleby School program offered by EHS, and are taking the “Community Involvement” title of the new class to new heights by working to revamp the Elizabethton Walking Tour.
Wanting to learn more about the history of the city led the trio to start looking at ways to revamp the tour as part of a project through Bartleby. Along with adding the Veterans Memorial and Tweetsie Trail, Bartleby students are integrating a technologic-aspect to the piece, helping improve the route while looking at updating the current brochure available to the public.
“The focus of this project is to make the tour more visible for this generation and for the community to come down and be more reenergized about it,” said Grindstaff. “We looked at the brochure and the historical aspects of it. That’s how we’re taking part in the learning. We’re using that as a way to understand the culture of downtown better.”
Grindstaff, Dillard and Wagner each added they’ve performed individual research and met with public library archivist Joe Penza to help flesh out an idea of an updated tour.
Even though research, team-building and marketing skills are being developed, Grindstaff added an essential reason behind the project is to encourage the youth to be more active with the City of Elizabethton.
“We have this rich culture of history not a lot of people know about. We want the youth to get involved,” he said.
Watching the students take an interest in what Elizabethton has to offer has been a sight to see and is key for personal development, according to EHS and Bartleby teacher Dustin Hensley.
“I think for a young person to understand where they belong in this world, they first have to understand where they belong in their hometown and why they belong there,” Hensley said. “Through the research they’ve done with this project, I feel like they’ve gotten a lot closer to this community. I’ve been very impressed with their work on this project and I love the fact they’re looking at so many different angles, from tourism to marketing. They’re looking at the technologic side … they’re really hitting a lot of disciplines with this project.”
Throughout the project, Dillard and Lawson added its been a joy working alongside different classes at the school. Not only to be involved, but to also show what the Bartleby program can offer for the future, according to Dillard.
While providing a facelift to a resource available in the community, the teenagers are also making their mark in the tourism aspect of Elizabethton and Carter County.
During the month of October, the Tennessee Department of Tourism released numbers on how Carter County benefitted from tourism in 2016.
According to numbers provided, Carter County was ranked No. 40 out of 95 counties in the state, generating $37.14 million in direct tourism expenditures.
Due to the influx, Carter County was able to produce $5.85 million in payroll and created near $5 million in local tax revenue ($2.38 million) and state tax revenue ($2.32) million.
Having resources available, like Bartleby, has been key to the success, according to Carter County Tourism Coordinator Kayla Carter.
With multiple avenues currently being utilized, from grant funding and marketing and development of other assets, the coordinator said the students have been instrumental to the improvement of the tour, which can be utilized more as a marketing tool for Elizabethton.
“I think this will keep people in our city longer,” Carter said about the trail. “(Tourism) is about generating revenue and offsetting taxes for people. If we can bring a new life to this and push it out, it’ll keep people in the city longer, spending more money and saving taxpayers more money in the long run.
“They’ve helped me get outside the box,” Carter added about Grindstaff, Lawson and Dillard. “They’ve inspired me to not just continue doing things the way we’ve always done them. They’ve taken time out to say ‘it takes us more time to walk the route this way’ or ‘look at these new assets we have, let’s add those’ or reprinting the brochure all over again. If I were to take the time to do that, it would take my time away from the other important things to do. With them taking the lead, it’s allowed me to focus on some other really important things that we need to do for tourism and the community.”
Grindstaff, Dillard and Lawson are just three of the 15-plus students taking part in Bartleby and assisting with different projects throughout the community. Residents wanting to learn more about projects underway, or planned for the future, will be invited to a Bartleby Open House, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 7 beginning at 8 a.m. inside TCAT – Elizabethton.
Stay up to date with Elizabethton City Schools online for more information.

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