Whitehall residents with eagle eyes already might have spotted the colorful, hand-painted rocks -- one at Whitehall Community Park, another at the library, a few more at Lamby Lane.

Dozens of rocks were decorated and hidden around town by Etna Road Elementary School fourth-graders, who hope their work will be found and stashed again.

About 90 Etna Road students are participating this year in Project Cecil ROCKS.

It is the latest extension of Project Cecil, named for the African lion whose slaying in Zimbabwe in July 2015 by an American hunter stirred an international firestorm.

Project Cecil activities continue to spread in classrooms in the United States and abroad, educating students on extinction and the dangers facing certain species, said Lorna Good, a fourth-grade teacher at Etna Road.

"In class, we talk about animals that are in peril and endangered species," Good said.

Last year, students used a variety of social-media platforms to research endangered animals and created a Facebook page, "Project Cecil: Save 1 for me," which remains active with more than 3,700 followers.

This year, Etna Road students hand-painted rocks and pasted a message on the bottom of each one, explaining the purpose of Project Cecil ROCKS.

It asks each person who discovers a rock to use the "Project Cecil ROCKS" Facebook page to report where and when it was discovered and post a photo, then to hide the rock in a new location -- or keep it but replace it with a new rock.

The Facebook page is used to track the movement of each rock, Good said.

Each student painted one rock to resemble an endangered animal of the student's choosing, Good said.

Some chose animals that face danger but are not yet endangered species.

"It's exciting for the kids to wait to see where the rocks travel," Good said.

Leon Davis, 10, chose a lion "because it's my favorite animal" and hid it at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Some students are taking the idea to a higher level.

Dashanda Hernandez, 8, said she would hide her rock somewhere in New York City during a Christmastime trip to the Big Apple.

Her rock features a dog -- an animal that students learned sometimes faces danger in China.

Good is sending additional rocks the students created to a friend in California, where they will be similarly placed.

Students in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands also are participating in the program.

Good said her students are eager to learn about endangered species and are embracing conservation and animal protection.

"Through Project Cecil ROCKS, our students will learn about animals in the world that are in serious peril, such as African lion, why they are in danger, and help spread that message to others."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo