- Linden Avenue Middle School
LAMS Playground is a Community Effort
It took four years, a chunk of federal aid and support from the entire community to make the new Linden Avenue Middle School playground a reality.
But the effort was worth it, Principal Stacie Smith said, recalling how students took to the equipment on the first day of school.
Students had significant input on the equipment chosen. During her monthly student advisory committee meetings, the playground was a topic of discussion and she shared the available options with the committee whose members then brought the information to their homerooms, gathered feedback and reported back to Smith on the preferred choices.
The result is a setup reminiscent of the TV show American Ninja Warrior, with a circuit course along with items such as swings.
“P.E. classes can use it for warmups and there’s something for everyone – a mix of equipment for students in grades 5-12 and then 13 and up,” Smith said, adding that there is also an outdoor classroom area that is covered with an awning and has picnic tables so students can eat lunch outside. Plus, it is close enough to the building where Wi-Fi works and teachers can teach outside.
All the equipment is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The project began at the behest of students who, during the 2018-19 school year first said they would like some swings and places to sit with friends.
“We did surveys and the response from students overwhelmingly supported getting outdoor equipment,” Smith said. But then the pandemic struck and put plans on hold until the 2021-22 school year when the district started looking at building the playground out one piece at a time.
“It is amazing that the district was able to get a federal grant to do it all at once,” Smith said, adding that the grant covered all the equipment but funding for installation was not part of it. For that, the decision was made to do a community build.
The company that sold the equipment provided trainers for the volunteers and ran the project, including having an independent group come in to certify it was built correctly.
Eight local businesses and 31 community members made donations or provided assistance for the more than 60 community members who did the physical building and installation of the equipment.
Smith thanked the community for its support, saying that in total more than 100 people turned out to help in some way with the construction of the playground and surrounding area. Four days during the summer were allocated, but the group got it all done in 2 ½ days.
“We had people who really came to work and they worked hard on a couple of the hottest days of summer. We worked 12-hour days,” she said.
One member of the community brought a piece of heavy equipment to move mulch and many others brought their own tools to help, including members of the VFW post.
“Dave’s Tree Service came in and took down a tree for us with less than 24 hours' notice – and their crew stayed later to help with the build,” Smith said. “Hannaford set up a tent and provided snacks to volunteers and even set up our grill and cooked for the volunteers. They even posted a volunteer sign-up sheet for employees.”
Mighty Donuts, a new business, brought hundreds of donuts for volunteers.
With the initial phase complete, Smith is looking forward to expanding the offerings.
“We’re just getting started, we look forward to adding pieces in years to come,” she said, explaining that middle school students (who are ages 10-14) still like to have some structure to play.
RHCSD and LAMS thank local businesses
- Village Pizza
- Broadway Pizza
- CJ’s Pizza
- Annabelle’s Bake Shop
- Mighty Donuts
- Herzog’s Home Center