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Playground gets a face-lift



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Volunteers Jason Murray and Beth P’Simer read the directions for the brand new rock wall. Behind them are John Crawford (left) and Nathan Aquilina, peering through the hole. (click for larger version)
October 26, 2011 - Saturday was national "Make a Difference Day" and that's exactly what a hearty band of dedicated volunteers did as they worked long and hard to repair and expand the playground facilities at Lakeville Elementary.

"The kids are going to be so excited on Monday," said Principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall, who aided in the effort.

The Lakeville Parent School Council (PSC) spent approximately $7,000 of its funds on the playground improvement project, which included the installation of two new slides, a four-section rock climbing wall and a "super arch climber."

"The school didn't pay for anything," said PSC Treasurer Beth P'Simer, who noted nearly $5,500 came from the annual Fun Run fund-raiser held in September, while the rest was taken from the parent group's general fund.

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The whole project got started because P'Simer wondered why some areas of the play structures were covered with plywood.

"My daughter's in second grade now," she explained. "When she started going to school here, I noticed there was plywood up (there) and last year, I finally said, "Hey, why is there plywood up there?' It's been there for at least four years that I know of."

P'Simer was told one of the pieces was there to cover an opening that used to lead to a spiral slide that got broken. A replacement slide was apparently purchased "a long time ago," according to P'Simer, but it was the wrong type. For some reason, the plywood stayed and the slide never got replaced.

"We were hoping when (the district passed) the ($32.7 million) bond, the school would have replaced some of these things," she said. "Some of the parents, when they came back to school (in September), asked me about it because they thought it would have been fixed, but I said it wasn't part of the bond."

P'Simer approached the PSC about funding a volunteer project to repair the existing play structures and add some fun, new equipment for the school's K-5 student body.

"I looked at the playground and it had room – it needed more stuff," she said. "I think it has a lot less equipment than other elementaries around here."

Playgrounds are playing an increasingly important role in children's lives these days, especially as their activities are becoming more and more structured, according to P'Simer.

"This is the only form of 'free play' kids have left where they don't have adults or coaches telling them how to play and what the rules are," she said. "They can come out here and use their imagination."

The PSC loved P'Simer's idea and agreed to fund it. "Beth was so persistent in getting this going and making sure that it happened," Gibson-Marshall said.

"I think it was the only way that they would have gotten new stuff out here," P'Simer noted. "I don't even know the last time they had new equipment up here."

"New stuff is always fantastic," Gibson-Marshall said. "I think we needed some extra little pieces for kids to play on.

"There's not a lot of times in (the students') day, with the increased curriculum mandates, when they get to really, truly have freedom and enjoyment. I think that 20 minutes that they get each day (for recess on the playground) is really important and so is being able to make the most of it."

Gibson-Marshall believes the new equipment is going to help students develop important "physical skills" and "build upper body strength."

"Beth was smart about what the kids truly needed as far as skill-building and physical mobility," she said.

P'Simer wished to thank the Home Depot in Auburn Hills for donating the rental of a motorized auger for digging holes and a truck to haul the more than 60 bags of cement needed for the project.

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