Our view: It takes a villageWashington Elementary is finally going to finish its playground and they need community members to lend a helping hand!
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Last week, members of the Cloquet School Board agreed to loan the Washington Elementary School PIE (Partners In Education) group $25,000 from the district capital fund to begin work on a playground renovation project several years in the making.
And, while we don’t approve of coveting your neighbor’s wife or playground, it’s time. It’s been several years since Churchill Elementary in Cloquet dazzled kids and neighbors with new play equipment.
Yes, Churchill raised the money for that playground, just as Washington has been raising its own funds. The Churchill playground came at a price tag of about $100,000. Washington has already spent $70,000 on partial renovations – with half that money going toward installation – and hopes to finish the job with the loan plus another $30,000 already raised by students and parents.
Yes, that adds up to $125,000 total, but Washington has been handicapped in this game because – unlike Churchill – their playground isn’t a city park. So Washington had to pay for the installation of new equipment while city employees (with help from parents and students) installed everything at Churchill.
Rather than whine about it or petition the city to adopt the fields already used by the youth football teams, Kids Corner and anyone else who wants to go play, the folks at Washington have come up with a new plan: Get community help.
Get parents and builders and maybe even the city of Cloquet to pitch in when the new equipment arrives and make it happen. The only pay is the personal satisfaction of doing something to help your local community, and all those adorable children who work and play here.
This tentatively planned “community build” will take place sometime this fall. There will be a paid supervisor from the company providing the equipment, but it’s the local people who will do the bulk of the work. They need folks to shovel, folks to operate heavy equipment, folks to hand out water … the list goes on.
When they’re done, the playground at Washington will be handicapped accessible and have equipment appropriate for every age group at the elementary school. And, thankfully, the children can say goodbye to the “Lake Washington” pool that forms after every heavy rainfall because of drainage issues, which will also be corrected during the community build.
There is much to be grateful for. In the words of one teacher at the school, they are “SOOOOOOO thankful that our school board is helping us do this so we don’t have to wait and that it would not have been possible without them.”
We like the “can-do” attitude of the Washington PIE, the staff and the students. We hope many people, organizations and businesses will chip in to help make this grassroots effort a success.
One step at a time, we can become a better community. Here’s to turning off our television sets and video games and tuning into our neighbors and fellow citizens.
~ Jana Peterson