If you ask homeowners why they decided to move to Country Walk, very often you’ll hear them mention that its family friendliness was a prime attraction. But how does the “family friendly” thing work out in practice? For that perspective, we needed to interview some experts: kids who grew up in the neighborhood and are now young adults: Cindy Smith, Emilee Sorbello, Lori Tamas, and Jonathan McElrath.
All of the kids enthusiastically and unanimously agreed that the neighborhood was indeed a friendly place to live. “I thoroughly enjoyed growing up in Country Walk,” Emilee said.
“It never seemed to matter who moved in or out of the houses around us; everyone was always very friendly,” Cindy said.
Jonathan emphasized that the neighborhood has many spaces well suited to family activities, including the pool, pavilion, and the big field. Lori and her sisters loved to invite their friends to their annual summer bash, and they knew no matter how many kids came, there would be plenty of room for them at the pool.
It was easy to make friends with other children, Cindy recalled. “There were always kids playing out in our cul-de-sac, and if we ever found ourselves bored or lonely, there were always other kids at the pool,” she said.
Jonathan agreed, and noted there were several other kids his age just a few houses away that he saw all the time at school. He generally socialized with friends playing basketball on the court in the front of the neighborhood.
Lori recalled playing in our driveway and backyard with Morgan Biercewicz, who lived across the street, and Megan Huntington, whose backyard adjoins the Tamases’. If you want to meet your neighbors’ children, Cindy suggested investing in a bucket of sidewalk chalk, then go outside and draw on your driveway. “Chances are, there will be another kid coming out to join you within 15 minutes,” she said. “It’s a wonderful way to make friends.”
The kinds of activities varied by personality and time of the year. Emilee said she used to walk from one end of the neighborhood to the other to meet up with friends, but her favorite activity was going to the Country Store. “There was something about being young and being able to say that ‘I walked to the gas station today’ that was pretty cool,” she said.
Cindy liked “catching every salamander, lizard, frog, or insect that happened to wander within reach of myself or my neighbor, Alex White.” She also enjoyed spending lots of rainy afternoons in the Tamases’ “magical backyard” with Rachel after Varner Vocaliers practice. Lori agreed that her backyard indeed possessed many magical attributes, which varied depending upon whether one was playing in The Meadow, The Forest, or The Deck, which friends happened to be over that day, and what books they had just finished reading.
Lori remembered one summer day when she decided to ride her bicycle down every street and cul-de-sac in the neighborhood; it took an entire afternoon. She and her sister Rachel also enjoyed biking for miles along the Silver Comet Trail. Cindy was especially fortunate in that in the summer she could walk to her aunt and uncle’s house near the front of the neighborhood. En route, she would see everyone she knew, since they were outside soaking up the sun, too.
Jonathan’s favorite memories were playing football and baseball with his friends and family in the big field, and playing basketball with his friends at the basketball court. “I also enjoyed sledding down the various slopes [at the edges of the playing field] whenever it would snow,” he said.
Community activities also were recalled with fondness. Cindy and her siblings Annie and Chad participated in swim team for seven or eight years. Emilee did not, but liked to hang out at the pool with her friends, who did. Cindy, Emilee, Lori, and Jonathan all dressed up for Halloween and went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. A great deal of thought and effort went into each year’s costumes. Lori recalled that she could get a pretty good haul of candy going up and down just three or four streets. The annual Fourth of July parade and Christmas caroling were other activities that Cindy especially enjoyed.
School obviously is a big part of any young person’s life in Country Walk. All of the former kids interviewed attended Varner Elementary and Tapp Middle schools, but most took advantage of the opportunities offered by the Cobb County School System to choose different high schools: Cindy went to Pebblebrook and McEachern; Jonathan to McEachern; and Lori to Campbell. Emilee attended a high school outside of Cobb County.
As young adults finishing college and entering the workforce, they said that they received a good education in all of their schools. “My education was well-rounded and I learned a lot from every school I attended,” said Cindy, who plans to continue her studies in nursing at the University of Alabama-Birmingham upon her return to the United States.
Jonathan is in the Army National Guard, and just became certified to work as an armed security guard, so he is now looking for a job in that field. He is pleased with the education he received, and stressed the need for making a personal effort to get the most out of the schools.
Lori is clerking at Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP in Atlanta, having completed her bachelor’s degree in German at Georgia State University, and Emilee is working for Dennis Dingler State Farm Insurance in Marietta.
Not that the kids of Country Walk have limited their horizons to Powder Springs and the Southeast. Currently, Cindy is about halfway through a year-long contract as an au pair in Nürnberg, Germany. During her free time, she has traveled to such picturesque locations as Hallstatt, Austria. Could any former Vocalier resist singing tunes from The Sound of Music in a town like this?
Germany has also been a travel destination for Lori, who studied for a year at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen and completed an internship with a German law firm in Stuttgart. Lori also has studied in China and South Korea. She advises those wishing to follow in her far-flung footsteps to remember to bring plenty of antiperspirant with them — it’s still not widely available in Asia.
When these young adults were asked what advice they’d give to the current crop of youngsters being raised in the neighborhood, most of it could be paraphrased in three words: “Go. Play. Outside.” Emilee was emphatic: “Put down the electronics, get outside, and make friends with the kids around you.”
“Take advantage of the amenities,” Cindy said, “we have the best pool in Powder Springs.” However, Jonathan cautioned that you should bring your ID when you use the amenities: “The cop won’t take your word for it that you live here.”
So if you are wondering whether Country Walk is a good place to raise your family, the expert consensus from these young adults is a resounding yes! Country Walk gives kids the literal and figurative space to be kids, make friends, and grow into well-grounded adults.
“Cherish your Country Walk friends! They’ll be the ones that you still text ten years later and half a world apart,” Cindy said.