By Sue Botos
Even though the start of classes was less than a week away, dozens of children and their parents were glad to take a break in their back-to-school preparations to celebrate the grand opening of the new Goldwood Primary School playground on Friday under sunny summer skies.
While kids jumped, climbed, slid and swung on the shiny new equipment (to the accompaniment of the Rocky River High School pep band), others pointed out their hand-decorated tiles on a wall next to the playground, a fundraiser which also included contributions from district staff and administrators.
Goldwood Principal Carol Rosiak commented that the new play area had the capacity for 110 children. “We did this all without taking away any green space or concrete areas,” she stated.
Playground committee co-chairs Liz Harmath, Erin Konet and Beth McBride were also recognized for their part in making the playground a reality. “This was a labor of love that took two and a half years,” McBride remarked to the crowd, which included teachers, past and present. She credited former Goldwood PTA member Deb DiCarlo and Rosiak for “getting the ball rolling” to replace the old equipment which, after 20-plus years, was rotting and missing parts.
“We looked at the needs and came up with a plan. We presented it to the school board and were pleasantly surprised with their willingness to jump on board,” McBride added.
The district was the first contributor with $24,900. The Rocky River Women’s Club added $10,000; the Goldwood PTA, $9,000; and the Rocky River Education Foundation supplied a $10,000 grant.
Funds for the more than $130,000 project were secured through a variety of fundraisers such as purchasing tiles on the “welcome wall”; the Goldwood Triathlon, where students raised money by reading, walking and dancing; and the sale of “Gym Rats” T-shirts, designed by art teacher John Rocco. Community members and businesses also contributed at various levels named for “The Sun,” “The Moon,” “The Planets,” “Constellation Points” and “Stars.”
“If we could have used coupons, we would have,” stated Assistant Superintendent Liz Anderson, adding that every money-saving measure had been used in the purchase of the equipment, including buying off-season and storing the parts until construction.
Aside from the new pieces, a climbing structure installed in 1998-1999, chin-up bars and the favorite geodome and dinosaur were incorporated into the new play yard.
A unique feature of the play area is the “Buddy Bench” nestled beneath a tree. The heart shaped seat, offers not only a place to take a rest, but an opportunity for friends to resolve conflicts. “It gives them a chance to be with a friend or to make a friend,” commented school board member and former Goldwood Principal Jean Rounds.
Goldwood students, during the last school year, were also able to enter a lottery to determine who would cut the ribbon at the playground dedication. The winner, Liam Mosback, now a third-grader at Kensington Intermediate School, marched from the speaker’s podium to the playground carrying a pair of oversized scissors which he used, with a little help, to snip the ribbon strung across a slide.
After the formalities, it was on to the ice cream truck parked in the school lot for some refreshment. An informal survey gave the new playground a unanimous thumbs up. As Harmath looked over the area, she felt a feeling of accomplishment. “All of the kids playing are evidence of a job well done,” she said.