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Guadalupe Centers students bring hidden beauty of Kessler Park into plain sight

Kessler Park
Posted at 8:25 AM, May 21, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kessler Park in Northeast Kansas City is currently overgrown, filled with trash and a hostile environment for native plants. After Guadalupe Centers students clean it up as part of a school project, it should look like a different park.

What was once a nature-lover's oasis filled with trails, a lake and a scenic cliff drive, has become a honeysuckle wasteland. Kessler Park in Kansas City, Missouri, has been long ignored, making restoring it to its former glory a daunting task.

“There’s a lot of beauty that you don’t necessarily see from the roadway and once you get down in it, you realize that this is a huge natural asset for the community, for the city,” Jerusalem Farm Park steward Mary O'Connell said.

O'Connell works in the park and explained one cause for the mess.

“There’s all this trash that’s hidden underneath the honeysuckle,” O'Connell pointed out.

Honeysuckle bushes are hard to remove and keep away. Jerusalem Farm enlisted help from Guadalupe Centers' high schoolers.

“Honeysuckle impacts the park because it competes with native plants by shading the native plants and just taking the soil and nutrients,” sophomore Ricardo Rodriguez said.

Students at the school’s impact academy chose to manage the Kessler Park project because it’s their park.

“I love going there and spending time with my friends,” junior Aldo Holgoin said. “I think it’s time we clean it up.”

With help from nearly 30 classmates, they will get the job done.

“This area, I would say, is not entirely degraded yet which is exciting. We can still save it, you know,” O'Connell said.

The students will remove the honeysuckle and pick up the trash. This project will increase the park's safety and cleanliness, and O'Connell hopes it helps to better the perception of the park.