RPES playground assembled and ready for action

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Rachel Patterson Elementary School students now have one big new toy to play with.
The school recently put in a new playground for the youngsters to play on during their physical education classes.
According to Rachel Patterson principal Susan McKenzie, the old playground was demolished during past hurricane seasons and the previous principal was in the process of cleaning up the wreckage.
"The playground was destroyed during Hurricane Ivan," McKenzie said. "Beth Drew, the principal at that time, began the clean-up effort by clearing debris left by the storm. That clean-up involved tree removal and playground equipment removal."
The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) chose to take the playground fund on as a mission, holding fundraisers to raise money for a new playground, McKenzie said.
"The PTO took the playground on as a project," she said. "Fundraisers were held and money made was designated for the new playground."
When McKenzie became principal of the school last year, the tires from the old playground were still in need of being removed. This proved to be more difficult and more costly than she thought it was going to be.
"When I came on board as principal in June of 2006, we were at the point where we had to remove the tires that were left," McKenzie said. "This proved to be more of a problem than expected. Tires have to be disposed of in an environmentally and ecologically sound manner. This required the services of a company specifically for that purpose. This was quite costly. Then the new gravel was poured on the playground."
The playground committee, which consists of Melissa Ingram, Sonja Lambert, Tammy Smith, Renee Wolfe and JoAnne Bonds, began choosing which playground the school would like to order.
"The playground committee began meeting to decide what playground equipment we wanted to order," McKenzie said. "In January, after deciding what type of playground we wanted, the committee met with a representative and the order was placed."
It took approximately eight weeks for the school to receive the playground equipment and a week to assemble the playground.
The playground costs approximately $22,000. The PTO fundraisers paid for the majority of the playground.
"We want to thank all of the parents who sold cookie dough, pretzels and other items when a fundraiser came around," McKenzie said. "We also wanted to thank those who purchased items from the fundraisers."
Students also collected pennies to go toward the cost of the playground and the Rachel Patterson faculty voted to use the $8,500 received for the "Meeting the Challenge" award on the playground.
Local businesses also contributed to the playground fund. Those businesses include, Chuck Stevens Chevrolet, First National Bank &Trust, Tiger-Sul, Tri-Co. Electric, David's Catfish, Masland Carpet and Charles Godwin Attorney At Law.
"We also want to thank those businesses who contributed to the playground fund," McKenzie said.
The students are thoroughly enjoying the new playground, according to McKenzie.
"The children are enjoying the playground daily," she said. "They love it. It has been so long since they have had the large playground to play on."

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