Arthur Edwards Elementary raises $27,000 for new play area

Students at Arthur W. Edwards Elementary School in Havelock no longer have to risk getting cut when they climb around on a decades-old playground.

A concerted effort among teachers, parents and members of the community has led to the installation of a new $27,000 playground for kindergarteners.

Parent-Teacher Association President Sara Bartz was among those who spearheaded the effort to get the new playground. Students, teachers and parents gathered to cut the ribbon and play on it for the first time on Monday morning.

Bartz has two children at the school. The youngest will be among the children using the playground.

“Last year as a kindergartener, he played and came home with splinters and sand in his shoes all the time, so we were looking for a structure that would be friendly for both our kids and the teachers who would not have to deal with Band-Aids,” said Bartz.

Both the kindergarten and first-grade playground had to be removed because they were in such disrepair.

“Both of these playgrounds were over 40 or 50 years old,” said Principal Kathy Leffler. “They were here when the school was originally built. Every year the maintenance would spend a lot of time trying to make sure they were safe, and it just got to the point that they weren’t safe anymore.”

Leffler described all the support to pay for the playground as awesome.

“It’s taken several years to get the funding for the kindergarten playground,” said Leffler. “It has involved the last four or five PTA boards, but in the last year they really brought us over the top. Community members also made donations, and we also got a grant from the Bate Foundation.”

Jodi Thomas was among the parents who helped.

“The old one wasn’t really safe, and having a special needs child myself, for him trying to climb the old structure is kind of painful,” said Thomas. “Knowing that he will be able to do this one, it’s safer and handicap accessible. It’s a really good feeling to be able to watch our parents and our teachers work together and get this playground done over the past few years.”

The parents and children did cookie dough sales, movie nights and game nights to raise money one dollar at a time.

The playground, manufactured by Bliss Park and Play, has two slides and 13 plays areas that include drum sets, a play bench, telescopes, steering wheel, rock wall and swings, including a handicap accessible swing.

“Over the summer as a board and with the school, we worked on choosing a playground that would be a best fit for the school, and once that was decided, we put it on the install schedule and they got it done,” said Bartz.

The playground took about three or four days to assemble.

“I just want to say thank you to all our families and the members of the community who have donated and helped fund-raise,” Bartz said. “They are the ones who made this happen.”

Next the PTA will focus fundraising efforts on replacing the first grade playground that had to be removed from the school yard. Until then, the kindergarteners and first-graders will share the new playground.