The students in Skyview High’s advanced-placement government class are trying to practice what they’ve been preached.
The students are meeting with the Billings City Council later this month to propose building a disc golf course at High Sierra Park in the Heights.
“In the spring, second semester, I tell my students, the community has done a lot for you, now it’s time for you to do something for the community,” Jerry Jette, Billings Skyview High School government instructor, said. “The reason I do this is so they understand” how city government works.
Jette’s class got together earlier this year and came up with a plan to put a disc golf course in the Heights. It was an idea fraught with potential setbacks.
Last fall, after complaints from residents, the City Council voted to remove disc golf from the Pioneer Park Master Plan. The move caused an uproar in the community, and the council put disc golf back in weeks later.
Jette reminded his students of the controversy and told them he didn’t think proposing a disc golf course was the greatest idea. But his students persisted.
And he’s glad they did.
“We haven’t had anyone say this is a bad idea,” Jette said.
In fact, when the students made their presentation to Mark Jarvis, the city’s park planner, he was pleasantly surprised.
When the Pioneer Park Master Plan was revised by the council, members asked the parks department to look at other places in the city where a disc golf course could be built to alleviate some of the pressure on Pioneer Park.
“Turns out High Sierra Park is No. 2 on the priority list,” Jarvis said.
The students met with the Heights Task Force last week and then held a community meeting at Skyview High on Tuesday night. The response was positive at each gathering, Jette said.
Denis Pitman, one of the council’s two Heights representatives, was at both meetings and praised the students’ efforts.
“It’s a great civic lesson for the students,” he said.
Like Jarvis, Pitman believes High Sierra Park is just the place for disc golf.
“This is a park where there aren’t a lot of neighbors,” he said. “It’s an easy fit.”
Students will meet with the parks board next week and then the City Council at its May 24 planning session. Pitman believes they’ll get a positive reception from council members.
Jette is just pleased his students are learning how local government operates. They’ll live in towns and cities their whole lives, and it’s important they know how government functions, he said.
“I think that it’s great civic acumen,” he said.