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BROOKWOODS DESIGN THINKING CLASS SHARES A NEW VISION FOR PARADISE PARK WITH CITY STAFF Article PhotoA group of local eighth graders have big ideas for the City of Thomasville’s Paradise Park. Students and teachers from Brookwood School’s Design Thinking class made a presentation to City of Thomasville staff recently, which included a focus on making Paradise Park more secure and kid friendly.

The class, now in its second year, is led by teachers Joshua Hanke and Melissa Brown. They said that when looking for a class project, the class wanted to target an area that could potentially benefit the community. Hanke and Brown brainstormed with students to come up with an area in Thomasville that could be made even better, and the students decided on Paradise Park.

“The students felt that Paradise Park needed the most attention and was the most under-utilized park based on location,” said Hanke. “Students then spent a lot of time walking the park, taking measurements, and interviewing park visitors. They really did their research.”

The Brookwood students decided to focus their improvements on three specific areas to make the park better. Their improvements included making the park more kid friendly, more secure, and making changes to utilize the entire park area.

To address kid friendliness at the park, a rock climbing wall and recycled rubber mulch were mentioned as improvements. Student Hudson Sizemore thought more quality benches and picnic tables would be useful, and student Will Bryant mentioned adding a splash pad for kids to cool off and have a good time.

To make the park more secure, students discussed adding a fence around the playground, LED lighting, and kiosks with cameras to monitor safety. “We interviewed a lot of people to find out how to make the park safer,” said student Sam Watts, noting that a fence around playground equipment would make it easier to watch children that are playing.

To better utilize the entire park area, an asphalt walking path, possible fitness course, and bike trail were suggested. Students also thought adding more events would be a great addition to Paradise Park. “Events like Food Truck Mondays and fitness classes would bring more people to the park,” said Laine Clendenin. Watts agreed, “Mondays are tough days for everyone. A lot is closed on Mondays, and events at the park would help.”

The Brookwood students made their presentation to Assistant City Manager/City Engineer Jerry Pionessa and Assistant Utilities Superintendent Chris White, who were both impressed with the students and their plans for Paradise Park. Pionessa said that the City of Thomasville already has plans to host a Paradise Park design charrette, and the class’ research would add a lot of value to that event.

“Having the involvement of our community’s youngest citizens in the discussions for how to improve our public greenspaces has already yielded results, as we’ve seen with a similar class from the Scholar’s Academy and MacIntyre Park,” said Pionessa. “Ideas like the ones submitted from this class are what help drive the park improvement plans. I can see this class becoming very involved in those discussions when we start working on the formal plan next year.”

The City of Thomasville has park improvement projects currently underway at MacIntyre Park, Weston Park and Cherokee Lake Park. A design charrette and improvement process for Paradise Park will get underway next spring. For more information, visit

(click image to enlarge) Pictured (l to r): Assistant Utilities Superintendent Chris White, Assistant City Manager/City Engineer Jerry Pionessa, Brookwood teacher Joshua Hanke, Ben Parrott, Laine Clendenin, Zachary Lauderdale, Hudson Sizemore, Jack Saussy, Dana Pollock, Will Bryant, and Sam Watts


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