Last updated: August 28. 2014 5:44AM - 759 Views
By Kitsey E. Burns kburns@civitasmedia.com

First-graders at Boonville Elementary School get their first chance to try out the new mini-climbing wall on their upgraded school playground.
First-graders at Boonville Elementary School get their first chance to try out the new mini-climbing wall on their upgraded school playground.
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BOONVILLE — Following students’ first day back to class on Monday, elementary school kids at Boonville school gathered on the lawn for the official ribbon cutting of their new playground.

Principal Annette Johnson welcomed student and parents and thanked a number of people who helped make the project possible.

“Our school community has worked very hard the last three years to raise money to upgrade our playground,” she said. “Through the money raised by staff, students and parents, as well as a generous donation from the Martin Family Foundation, we were able to spend $38,000 on this playground.”

During the school’s playground inspection four years ago, it was determined that there were at least 12 areas that needed improvement. Instead of putting money toward smaller improvements, Johnson said a plan was created that would provide a major revamp of the playground.

For the last three years, money has been raised towards the project by way of pizza sales and other on-site fundraising events. Johnson said in addition to just raising money, it has been a goal to bring folks to the school to experience it. Last fall, Boonville Elementary hosted its first fall festival fundraiser, which was a great success.

“The fall festival was a big help last year raising funds, it was also a great way to get people to school and just be a part of a good community. We’re very lucky with that,” Johnson said.

New ground cover and a border around the playground are now better in line with safety recommendations for outdoor playgrounds, Johnson explained. New swings and a colorful new climbing structure with four slides and a mini-climbing wall were also part of the improvements.

“The new playground is going to be a big addition not only to the school, but to the community since we’re located right here in the town,” Johnson said.

Christy Brown, PTO president and a parent of two students at the school, was thrilled about the new playground and the benefits it would bring to students for many years.

“It’s great because we really have been lacking for awhile when it comes to this,” Brown said. “It’s really been a wonderful thing because it’s been a community effort and having them to have something like this that’s going to last a long time, it makes a big difference for them.”

Brown said on behalf of the PTO and school, she wanted to say a special thank you to Jay Martin, who donated $15,000 from his family’s foundation for the project. Martin’s father, Albert Martin, was principal of Boonville school from 1935 to 1972 and his mother, Jessie Martin, taught at Boonville from 1935 to 1965.

Brown said they were so grateful for the Martin family’s continued support of the school. They have donated to a number of projects at the school through the years and also offer a teaching scholarship that is available to graduates of both Starmount and Forbush high schools.

The new playground will be available not only for students, but also for the community at large. Johnson said they just ask that students and other playground visitors keep in the mind the “leave no trace” rule and pick up any items such as lunchboxes, coats or trash that they may have while at the park.

“I think the big thing is that we really are a family here,” Johnson said. “Anything we can do to help bring people into our school. We want parents here. We want the kids to feel like this is a good place to be whether its during the school day or in the evenings. It’s a nice place to be able to bring their family without having to go and spend a lot of money.”

Sharing the playground with the community is just part of what Johnson said is being a good steward.

“That’s the beauty of this little community, is that we all are very supportive. The town of Boonville is always supportive of the school. The businesses up and down the road, they’re great to support us also,” she said.

Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.

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