‘Friends of Spur Cross’ spirit lives on in BMES 4th/5th Graders!

By Pete Mohr | February 17, 2010

| More

black mountain school filming disney planet challenge
“Planet Challenge” student competitors respond to questions from Disney film crew director Kelly Cox (c) at Spur Cross, Feb. 12. Husband Jacob Cox films with Lucas Longacre manning the sound boom. Looking on are (l-r) Spur Cross Manager John Gunn, his assistant Tammy Teegarten, Dr. Steven, and the students’ 4th/5th Grades Multi-Age Class teacher Heidi Befort.    Photo by Vickilynn Hussey

Disney’s “Planet Challenge” prize money, if won, would help fund F.O.R.C.E. land purchase
CAVE CREEK – In the winter of 1997, Creeker preservationists Gary Schmitt, Tim Thurman (now deceased) and Gail Clement laid down on the proverbial “tracks” to halt (temporarily, at least) “The John Lang Express” that was racing, all-but-unimpeded, toward development of an exclusive golfing-residential community on Spur Cross Ranch. The centerpiece amenity, a Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course, had been surveyed and staked!

“Friends of Spur Cross,” outspokenly supported by this newspaper, became a veritable civics lesson in what unified community activism and determination could accomplish. Four years later, Cave Creek voters overwhelmingly approved a $6 million bond issue, thereby providing the last increment of funding that won the battle forever preserving Spur Cross.

Now, Ms. Heidi Befort’s 4th/5th Multi-Age Class at Black Mountain Elementary School (BMES) are energetically – but unknowingly – keeping alive the “Friends of Spur Cross” spirit by entering The Walt Disney Company’s “Planet Challenge” competition. Their project? Raising funds toward the acquisition of approximately 2,000 acres of F.O.R.C.E. (Friends of Recreation, Conservation and the Environment) lands adjacent to Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and Cave Creek Regional Park.

“There are wonderful Disney ‘Planet Challenge’ projects happening all over the country. We’re blown away by the types of projects we’re hearing about from energy conservation to habitat protection,” praised Disney’s Dr. Beth Steven, Senior Vice President, Environmental Affairs. “Black Mountain Elementary School’s Spur Cross land protection project is a great example of the power that young people have to engage and inspire fellow students, family and the community to get involved.”

Out of approximately 2,000 applications, BMES was one of only four schools (Detroit, Sonoma, Calif. and Virginia Beach the other three) selected to be profiled by “Planet Challenge” in promotions for the competition. A Disney production crew from New York City was on location at Spur Cross Feb. 11-12. Submission of the students’ final application portfolio is due at “Planet Challenge” by Feb. 26.

Heidi Befort described the goals of the challenge for her class: “Ours is a project-based, student-driven portfolio, which means the students are choosing the direction it takes, and the solutions are theirs. They’re focused on philanthropy and education of our community. They are trying to help the other students gain awareness of the need to preserve the land for its biodiversity, unique qualities, and plant and animal habitat of the area.”

Sonoran News congratulates Heidi Befort and her class on a commendable initiative. Appreciation also goes to Creeker Robyn (Mrs. Chris) Borucki, a BMES parent, who first brought “Planet Challenge” to Befort’s attention.

Students, our fingers are crossed for you!