Oakwood Register

September 24, 2014

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Vol. 23, No. 38 September 24, 2014 www.oakwoodregister.com Locket & Charm Collection 18K Gold & Sterling Silver 937-643-9600 WeberJewelers.com M O N I C A R I C H K O S A N N Long, Griffith inducted into Oakwood School's Educational Hall of Honor A gathering of some 75 friends, family, colleagues and well-wishers were on hand at the Dayton Country Club Friday as retired Oakwood teachers P. Thomas Griffith and Elaine G. Long were inducted into the school district's Sam Andrews Educational Hall of Honor. Griffith taught art at Oakwood Junior High from 1970 to 2010, while Long was a Spanish teacher at Oakwood High School from 1990 to 2010. The occasion marked the district's 35th such ceremony, with Griffith and Long being the 74th and 75th faculty members inducted into the Hall of Honor. "This is quite an honor," Oakwood Superintendent Dr. Kyle Ramey said, adding that the two teachers "made a difference in the lives of both stu- dents and families." Rev. Gary Eichhorn, pastor of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Oakwood, made the introduction for Tom Griffith, reading several testi- monials from former students, includ- ing comments from Eichhorn's son, now a successful artist in Chicago. "When Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann were advocating for public education during the early his- tory of this nation, the goal was that it not be compulsory but desirable, helping each student enter adult- hood capable of fulfilling his or her self-determined purpose in life." Eichhorn said. For generations of students, Eichhorn concluded after reading a number of testimonials, "Tom Griffith made being in school desirable, exactly what our founding fathers had in mind." "Mr. Griffith was the kind of teacher I wanted to work hard for," wrote a former student. "He made me proud of my work, and that translated into the desire to constantly improve myself. He really cared about his stu- dents, emanated creativity and culti- vated an inclusive atmosphere where everyone felt welcome. He gave his students the tools and encouragement to explore new ideas." "Tom is remembered as a true gentleman, whose patience and cre- ativity inspired the hearts and minds of young people who passed through his classroom," the induction citation Retired Oakwood teachers Thomas Griffith, left, and Elaine Long were inducted into the district's Hall of Honor during a ceremony held Friday at the Dayton Country Club. See Honor on page 6 u Nature walks 'discover' Hills & Dales Come rain or shine, snow or sum- mer sun — but not if there's any sign of lightening or thunder — a band of nature enthusiasts gathers each Wednesday to roam the wooded trails and wetlands of Hills and Dales MetroPark in Oakwood. Throughout the year, walkers on the park's Nature Discovery Stroll witness the changing seasons, shifting views of the landscape, and myriad migra- tions of birds and waterfowl. Surrounded by residential neighborhoods, the park is an oasis for nature lovers, and those who assemble at the Paw Paw Shelter every Wednesday morning often arrive with cam- eras to document the latest bird, bloom or blossom spotted along the trails and footpaths which wind through the park. Oakwood's Ted Helminiak, and his wife, Karin, together with Jack Schoenberger, all state certified naturalists, have been volunteering to lead the local treks since 2007. "The park is a diamond in the rough," reflects Helminiak. "It's a jewel that too few people use. If you're interested at all in nature you're crazy for not being out here." Once on the trail, Helminiak and like-minded naturalists point out this plant or that, waxing poetic about elusive paw paw fruit, scarlet cardinal wildflowers or New York asters. Among the more than 50 vari- eties of trees they've identified on the 63 acres of the park are non- native cork tree imports from Asia, a lone American elm, a rare stand of blackhaw and just four American hornbeam, also known as ironwood or musclewood. "In a short walk you can see everything from wetlands and mature forests to small pockets of prairie plants," Helminiak notes. "We're surrounded by Kettering, Oakwood and Dayton, but it's pretty nice to have a sanctuary where you can see warblers on their migration," observes Terry Holdcraft, who is a regular participant on the weekly nature walks. "I enjoy just being out in the woods, out in nature. It's fascinating to walk this place as it changes." A core group of between 20 to 30 regulars, mostly senior citizens, par- ticipate in the outings, and Helminiak says he can usually count on any- where from 10 to 15 people taking part in the walk on any given week. "In all the years we've been doing year-round walks there's only been two times that no one has been here, and both of those times the park was closed," he says. The pool of walkers shifts with the season or time of year, as bird watchers come and go or the cold forces others indoors, just as the park reveals different hues. "In the winter you can forever, you can see contours and landscape features are perfectly obvious," Helminiak adds. "In winter we see some birds, and it's the fresh air and exercise that draws people. In the spring the bird migrations come through and we have the onset of nascent wildflowers and the ephem- erals, spring perennials that come up before the trees leaf out. Just like a regular garden, forest flowers and trees have their different stages." A resident of Oakwood since 1962, Helminiak, now retired from Wright-Patterson, has seen Hills and Dale recover from decades of disrepair and disuse, thanks to extensive renovations in 2007-08 that restored the park using Olmsted designs original- ly envisioned for NCR's John Patterson. Now long gone, though traces may still be seen among the stands of trees, the park once included 14 overnight campsites with Adirondack-style shelters, and an outdoor amphitheater, all of it policed by mounted patrols. "At one point, when NCR had more workers than housing, company employees actually lived in the park campgrounds," he recounts. Though the campgrounds are now gone, the park remains a popular escape among the urban landscape. "There are a lot of people who love this place," Helminiak adds. "There are a lot of people who are committed to it, and the park is what it is because of them." Helminiak certainly may be count- ed among those committed to Hills and Dales, his dedication and enthusi- asm are evident as he strolls the gently sloping terrain. "There's no formality or structure to our walks," he adds. "If people are interested in something, we'll stop and talk about it." The 90-minute Hills and Dales' Discovery walks, held every Wednesday at 10 a.m. starting from the Paw Paw Shelter, are free of charge and open to anyone 18 years or older. Naturalist Ted Helminiak, front, leads a weekly 'Discovery Stroll' at Hills and Dale MetroPark in Oakwood.

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