The conceptual design of Columbus’ riverfront could be shaped by high school students.

Although the city has hired an Illinois-based professional firm, Hitchcock Design Group, to design the project, 97 freshmen at Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech High School stuck their toes in the water on riverfront ideas of their own.

English teacher Veronica Buckler and science teacher Andrew Larson asked their students to come up with a vision for the city’s riverfront.

New Tech students were divided into groups of three to develop prototypes of a riverfront connection between Second and Third streets, including a written and verbal pitch about their proposals.

Students were asked to consider the environmental impact of their overall design and how improvements such as reducing erosion, habitat quality or the reduction of flood risks might be applied, Larson said.

Students Lillian Tempest, Abby Braunelier and Samuel Moyer proposed a walkway with metal railings on both sides along the East Fork of the White River that would also feature a designated area for people to float downstream using water tubes.

“A lot of people now see the river as boring and dirty,” Tempest said. “We want to make it a better family environment.”

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com