MEMS launches playground campaign

MANCHESTER -- A new place to play outside may soon be coming to town. Manchester Elementary Middle School is launching their fundraising campaign to raise $150,000 for a new playground.

The school hopes to have the money raised and a new playground constructed in the spring of 2015. Assistant Principal Kim Tenner said the current playground was built in the 1970s and not developmentally appropriate for the younger students, as well as not enjoyable for the older children.

"Our goal is to have three separate playgrounds, all in the same area," she said. "We want to have a pre-K and kindergarten playground, one for the first through fourth grade and a middle school playground."

Katy McNabb, a member of the school board said at the board level some money was set aside for the green space committee to hire landscape architects, designers and traffic engineers to come up with a plan for the entire school property. The committee wants to help use the space available in a better manner.

"We have a lot of space...three big fields," she said. "Pick up and drop off and traffic patterns is something that I know a lot of parent...teachers...are concerned with, so looking at the entire big picture at how maybe we can change that." MEMS after school program, which has around 30 kids enrolled at any given time, also uses the playground. Amanda Koscinski, a paraeducator, said by the time after school comes around, most of the kids have already been out on the playground a few times during the day. A larger playground, with more space, will keep the students more engaged and moving, she said. The playground group does not yet have a design, mostly because they want to have the input of MEMS students. Tenner said in the fall, when the students return to school, they will be involved in the design process.

Sarah O'Keefe, a PTO member, said when she told her daughters about the project, they already came up with great ideas. McNabb said by having the kids involved they will have more ownership of the playground.

"We really want to know what they want on their playground," she said. Ô So far, the middle school students have already been involved in helping with fundraising, by holding middle school dances, Tenner said. Along with the money raised by the students, the Friends of MEMS and PTO will be making donations. O'Keefe said the PTO has earmarked money in their budget for the playground, as well as committing $700 for a shed for toys in the playground for the younger children.

"The PTO and friends of MEMS is going to partner to do a golf tournament at the Dorset Field Club in the early fall and dedicate the profits of the event to the play ground," she said.

Overall, the group really wants this project to be something for the whole community and be used by all "We want it to be what the children like but we want it to be unique," Tenner said. "We're really building it for the kids at MEMS but we want to build it for the community as well. So when kids come to Manchester to visit grandparents ... [they can] come to school and use our playground."


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