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READY TO PLAY: TES PTO raises $90K for new playground

Most of the playground equipment at Troy Elementary School has been there for nearly 30 years.

The TES PTO is working with grant and donor partners to change that, already raising nearly $90,000 toward the goal and seeking about $30,000 more.

“The Troy Elementary School PTO met with TES Principal Sims during the summer of 2019 to discuss priorities for the upcoming school year,” said Caleb Dawson, TES PTO president. “Upgrading the much-loved but 30-year-old playground was high on the list. The school had outgrown its current equipment and the students would benefit from an investment in the place where they spend at least 40 minutes a day growing, developing their physical skills, socializing and having fun.”

The PTO’s grant writing team of Lydia Carmody and Cristin Dillard secured a $15,000 Let’s Play grant for playground equipment from Keurig Dr. Pepper and “KaBOOM!” to help kickstart the campaign.

Part of that grant process was input from what the students would like to see on a new playground.

“The PTO worked with Principal Sims and the P.E. staff to identify specific features that would how the playground can serve the needs of TES students into the future. TES students themselves were also part of the process. They put their playground ideas on paper during “design day” sessions at the TES Extended Day program, at the Boys and Girls Club and at PTO meetings,” Dawson said. “The kids had a lot of common ideas. One of the biggest thing the kids will be excited about is having swings; they haven’t had them before.”

The 100-foot long zipline is also a feature students have expressed excitement about.

“Students frequently stop me in the hallway with big smiles on their faces and ask ‘When are we getting that zip line?’” Dawson said.

There are still some details to work out, Dawson said, but the basic features are set: slides, a football/soccer field, a walking track, a concrete basketball court, a kickball field and climbing structures in addition to the zip line and swings.

Dawson said one concern is giving older students more equipment that is engaging for their age level.

“This equipment now doesn’t suit the upper grades as well,” Dawson said. “The playground has up to 100 or 150 students at a time with a wide range of interests and physical abilities. This will met the broad range of needs better than the current equipment. Some kids might want to walk around the track and talk, some might want to kick a ball and some want to climb something. We want it to have something for everybody.”

Sims said the playground is an integral part of the school.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Sims said. “The playground is a very important part of our school. Kids need safe places to play and use their imaginations and exercise. Needless to say, we’re very excited about it. This will have a ripple effect ton children for children for years to come.”

Generous local donors include:

• Southeast Gas

• Whaley Construction Company

• Jim Whaley Tires

• AirTek

• Butter and Egg Adventures

• Oak Park Dental

• Pike Equipment Rental

• Cervera, Ralph, Reeves, Baker & Hastings, LLC

• Garrett Enterprises

• Meeks Termite & Pest Control

• Troy Regional Medical Center

• Synco Drugs

• Beckett Insurance Agency

• The Witherington Insurance Group

• Tops’L Hill Mini Warehouse

• Rep. Wes Allen

• More than 50 local families

These donors have committed over $90,000 in funding for the playground upgrade which brings the project very close to its goal of $120,000. Additional in-kind donations from local businesses include site prep, metal fabrication and concrete work.

“We’ve had so many different donations of many different amounts and it’s just wonderful to see a community come together and impact a school in this way,” Sims said. “We’re so grateful to the PTO for spearheading this project.”

There are still several opportunities to support the TES PTO playground upgrade incuding”

• topographical survey

• ground cover/grass planting

• chain link fence repair

• monetary donations

Additional donations will support improved accessibility for students and parents with limited mobility. The PTO plans to start construction as soon as school lets out for summer so that students can start the 2020-21 school year with the new playground. For more information on how to get involved contact the PTO on Facebook, at troyelementarypto@gmail.com or call 334-581-1077.