BERTRAND — Michelle Samuelson’s fourth-grade class at Bertrand Community School was discussing democracy when she asked them what they would like to add to their town.
Bailey Vinzant, 10, mentioned she would like to see a disc golf course for Bertrand. Bailey’s mom, Melissa Vinzant, is the executive director of Elwood Area Foundation, and she helped bring a disc golf course to Elwood.
“Elwood has one. I thought it was really fun to play,” Bailey said. “It’s for all ages, the whole family. ... Our pool is being built so we won’t have a pool this year. So it’s a fun outdoor activity.
The students continued to discuss the topic as they moved to their art class with K-12 art teacher Scott Schwarz.
“They were all pretty excited. They came in and posed the question to me,” Schwarz said. “I said, ‘You know something that would be cool ... maybe a Frisbee golf course.’ And Bailey was like, ‘Hey! My mom has put one in in Elwood.’ The excitement grew from there.”
Schwarz played disc golf in college and even created a course on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus.
Bertrand Community Schools Superintendent Jason Brown is also a fan of the sport, and the students talked to him about what they could do to bring a course to Bertrand.
The group of fourth graders, including Bailey, Kellan Vinzant, Adlea Hock, Sofia Guajardo and Nohelia Elox Mora, began discussing in March how they could create and fund a course, and their teachers introduced them to the Bertrand Area Community Fund, an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation. The students took time during recess and after school to create presentations asking for a grant from BACF and permission from the village board to create the course in the city park, which is located directly behind the school.
They presented their requests in April, and both groups immediately gave their approval.
“When we started, I was really nervous because we had to present it as just younger kids. Once we got that done I was really comfortable doing it. I felt like I had been doing stuff like this for a long time because I wasn’t nervous at all and I get nervous a lot,” Bailey said.
BACF awarded the students $3,000 to complete the project at Bertrand’s city park.
Schwarz took his junior high students outside to do trial and error in order to determine how big the course should be and where they could place baskets. They were able to purchase four baskets for the park, and each hole is a par 3.
In June, the kids helped create the base for each basket, and village employees put in the baskets. The group used part of their grant money to purchase Frisbees for the school’s physical education department. Those Blasted Signs of Smithfield created plaques for each tee and a sign with the rules for the course.
The students are excited to see people using the course. For their teachers, it’s been fun to see their students learn and grow throughout the process.
“I think they can see it is possible if they have an idea to bring it to fruition,” Schwarz said.