Whitwell Elementary raising money for new playground

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

Whitwell Elementary was completed in 1959 and the parents and grandparents of children who attend there now probably remember their own school days at Whitwell.

They no doubt muse from time to time about what has changed and what has stayed the same over the years.

The trouble is, not much has changed on the playground.

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Now, the school's Parent-Teacher Club is on a campaign to raise money to bring the playground into the 21st century.

"At the beginning of the year we looked at several things we wanted to accomplish as a school," Principal John Maynard explained. "We wanted to raise achievement scores and we've done that. We wanted to reorganize things and we've done that. One of the things on the list of parents, students and teachers is to update the playground."

Right now, children at Whitwell share two swing sets, but some of the individual swings are damaged and can not be used.

Children also use a damaged basketball court and a wide open space with a thin layer of pea gravel covering what used to be the old school's foundation.

The dream is to repair the swings, erect a play tower with slides and other activities, repair the basketball court and install a layer of mulch throughout the playground to protect against hurt knees and elbows.

Playground equipment can be pricey: Basic outfits can cost anywhere from $14,000 to $25,000.

Through cookie dough campaigns, concession sales at ball games, a Santa's Workshop and a fall festival, and thanks to a $1,733.88 donation last week by the Ironton Moose Lodge, the fund-raising campaign is now at the $10,000 mark.

Other fund-raisers are planned for the spring. Maynard said by then, he hopes to start replacing the swing sets.

PTC President Kim Summers pointed out that anything installed will be removable in the event schools are consolidated. In the meantime, Whitwell students need something special to call their own.

"They deserve it," she said. "These kids work hard. Their test scores are good and they deserve to have a playground they can be proud of. They see playgrounds at other schools and wonder why they don't have one."

Those who wish to donate may contact Summers or Maynard during school hours at 532-4054.