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The fourth-grade creative writing class at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School represents the future leadership of the city of Sandy Springs.

As the city draws up a downtown master plan that will define its identity for decades to come, the students’ crayon-colored ideas are worth considering, their teacher says.

Jim Barton spoke to the Sandy Springs City Council on May 15 about the assignment he gave his students. He handed council members 80 proposals wrapped in red string, each containing a child’s response to a question the city itself hasn’t yet been able to answer: What should a downtown look like?

It should be a monument, student Freddie Reams said, a symbol of the city surrounded by green space.

“The city of Sandy Springs is a beautiful place to live, but right now there is no landmark to know us by,” Reams said.

Abby Pilkenton proposed a “mixed use town center,” an “awesome, fun, relaxing” place with green space, shops and restaurants.

Or what about Alexa Marcontell’s idea of making it green space from one end to the other? Ansley Nichols suggested turning the Target site into a city hall, the city’s initial plan, but wanted some green space, too. Setareh Khani proposed a shopping district instead of a city government hub.

“Just think about it,” Khani said. “It will draw everyone.”

By the time they were finished, the City Council members smiled from ear to ear. Mayor Eva Galambos said the city’s elected leaders will take the students’ proposals to heart.

“I’m sure we’re all going to enjoy looking at them,” Galambos said. “You young people, I can already see you’re the next generation’s consultants.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com