Verbena Annex utilizes new playground equipmentBy Emily Beckett Published 7:12pm Friday, March 15, 2013
Students at the Verbena Annex have been busy the last three weeks breaking in their new playground equipment.
The Ultra Play Up and Away Playsystem for which the annex held a ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 22 is the product of the vision, dedication and fundraising efforts of countless students, parents, faculty, local officials, business owners and community members.
The installation of the play system started the third week in January and ended about a month later. Preparations and fundraising for the state-of-the-art structure intended to supplement the annex’s single slide and 10 swings started in the fall of 2012 and lasted several months.
Sue Ellen Gilliland, an instructional coach at the annex and Verbena High School, was one of the playground project organizers involved in the initial research of new equipment costs.
“First, I did some research before the fundraising to see if there was a system out there that we could afford,” Gilliland said. “Systems range from $10,000 to $100,000, so we had to come up with something that would be reasonable for us to set a goal to obtain. We just decided we were going to set the goal and if we had to do two or three fundraisers this year, then that was what we were going to do.”
Organizers sent bid requests to three companies with the same type of play systems and accepted the lowest bid from J.A. Dawson & Company.
Organizers’ goal was to raise roughly $12,000. The play system ended up costing more than $13,000, but fundraising efforts netted $13,146—enough to pay for the new equipment.
Gilliland informed students they had met their fundraising goal at a Harvest King and Queen Fundraiser Assembly in October and recognized the top six students who raised the most money, as well as residents, businesses and groups including the McGriff family and Woodmen of the World who donated money to the project.
“Everybody was so receptive to the idea,” Gilliland said. “Even in a terrible economy, they were willing to support the project.”
The three-tier play system located in the back playground area next to the original equipment meets federal safety standards and is age-appropriate for the 120-plus students at the annex in grades K–2.
It contains three slides, a rock climbing wall, a bone bridge, musical drums, lookout stations and more.
The play system can accommodate 22 students at one time, and combined with the old equipment, all 25 students in each class can comfortably enjoy the playground together during their 45-minute P.E. class periods.
“The kids are thoroughly enjoying using the new structure,” Gilliland said. “The parents have been very excited to see it come to fruition. There’s just so many more things for the students to enjoy and do interactive, imaginative play.”
The playground ribbon cutting ceremony in February was held in conjunction with Dads’ Day at the annex, allowing many of the parents who contributed to the project to see the benefits of the equipment as their children used it that day.
“We’ve had a very positive response,” Gilliland said. “The entire project was really due to the vision of our administrators for wanting to begin the project, and then the hard work and dedication of our students and parents and the generosity of the community. There were so many other people who donated their time, money and energy.”