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Civics Project Leads To New Sidewalk For Northside Middle School

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Students involved in the project at Garcia Middle School walk down the newly completed path

Taking civic action is proving to be effective for a group of middle-schoolers on the Northwest Side of San Antonio. Nearly a year after presenting their case to City Council, a new sidewalk has been constructed to keep them from walking in a ditch.

Thirteen-year-old Santiago Gutierrez, an eighth grader at Hector Garcia Middle School used to trek through mud to get to class. “There was just a bunch of rocks and weeds and there was only just a tiny part that you could walk on,” he said.

Cars rushed down Kyle Seal Parkway, where the school is located, sometimes at high speeds.  That concerned Principal Eric Tobias. “The road is very heavy as you can tell right now, and the kids were having to cross across Kyle Seal,” Tobias said.

The students needed a sidewalk.  And last year they decided to ask the San Antonio City Council to help them get it. 

District 8 City Councilman Ron Nirenberg holds Town Hall meetings for children. “At that kids’ Town Hall in January last (school) year these students brought forward to improve the situation at their school. We didn’t ask them to do it. They just took the initiative to make that happen.”

After meeting with Nirenberg the students took their request to a City Council committee.  The $29,000 project was approved.

A district photo of what the curb look liked before
Credit Northside ISD
Northside ISD

  Santiago says they got the news in class. “Miss Espinoza, our teacher who guided us through the project, she said that our proposal was accepted and that they’re going to build the sidewalk and we were all very excited.”

Several months later, the new sidewalk — about two blocks long — was installed. Nicholas Nyberg, another 13-year-old student says the experience has made him a believer in the civic process.

“No matter what your age you can make a difference even though it’s to a crowd of adults.”

Sometimes it doesn’t take fighting City Hall to get something needed for the community.