Graham Middle School students working to make their hometown a place to stay

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GRAHAM, N.C. — A handful of teenagers are doing their part of make their hometown a place people will want to stay in, and even move to.

Some Graham Middle School students say Downtown Graham has a lot of potential, but that it just needs a little push in the right direction.

About nine students had a chance to draw their own version of downtown and make it a place they could still call home, decades from now.

“It’s peaceful and everyone is friendly,” says Kristen McAdoo, an eighth-grader.

“We’re just such a strongly knit community,” adds Hailey Pickard, who’s also in eighth grade.

These middle schoolers love calling Graham their home.

“It’s a loving place,” says Kristen.

But they feel there needs to be some changes made to Downtown Graham to get them to stay put when they grow up.

“I hope we get more walking areas, more places for youth to take advantage of their surroundings and the community,” explains Hailey.

They’ve teamed up with other students at Graham Middle School, a design group, and the city administration, and are all determined to make it happen.

“It’s been a little challenging in finding individuals who want to come hang out and stay,” says Mary Faucette, the Downtown Development Coordinator.

So, they called on some of the youngest members of their community to give unique input on how Graham can grow.

“When we originally asked if Graham was someplace they wanted to come back to, some of them were like, ‘no way man, I’m moving to Vegas,” Faucette explains.

But that’s beginning to change with the help of 13- and 14-year-olds.

“We know what kids want,” says Hailey. “We are kids.”

“It kind of looks dull. I want to make it better for the next generation of people so we can have people who want to stay in Graham,” says Kristen. “And teenagers like me could have fun living in the community.”

They’re drawing their own future for Graham on a piece of paper.

“Whenever I’m with friends we have to go all the way to Greensboro or Raleigh,” adds Kristen. “It would be better if it was all right here in walking distance.”

The kids and Faucette both hope their vision becomes a reality, for everyone.

“This project is to look at your future,” says Faucette. “So that you can call Graham home and come back. What will make you come back to Graham and give you a sense of pride.”

This phase of the project will wrap up mid-summer.

They hope to have a more definite master plan in the fall.

The last time the city of Graham had this in-depth of a planning project was in 1967.

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