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Hard work leads to new playground equipment

October 19, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

When Sandy Andrews became treasurer of the Winter Street Elementary School PTA three years ago, he and fellow parents set out to expand the West End school's modest playground.

At the time, his son was a third-grader at the school.

Three years and $7,000 later, Andrews' son has moved onto middle school, but the playground equipment is now in place.

"It took a while, but it was worth it," said Andrews, who in now vice president of the PTA.

On Sunday, Andrews proudly pointed to the fruits of all that labor: a basketball-like hoop, a fire engine play area and two new swing sets, which tripled the number of swings.

The fire engine, which has benches, sliding poles, jungle bars and two steering wheels in the shape of a fire truck, reflects a $2,000 donation the PTA received from the volunteers at the Western Enterprise Fire Co.

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Kayla Snodderly, 6, said she remembers what the playground used to be like.

"Last year, there used to be two little monkey bars and the sliding boards. It wasn't even fun," she said.

Kayla said kids used to have to wait in long lines to get a turn on the popular swings. Now, not only are there more, she said they are better.

"They're higher than the others," she said.

Teacher Kelly Schlotterbeck, a faculty liaison to the PTA, said older kids rarely got a chance to ride on the swings in past years because they were set aside for the younger children.

"The third- and fourth-graders never got to play on the swings. They're on all the time now," she said.

Getting the new equipment, though, took years of planning, raising money in small chunks and weaving through a sometimes slow bureaucracy, parents said.

"It was, like, a two-year process. There were a lot of people criticizing us," Andrews said. "But they didn't understand."

In the beginning, Andrews said he and fourth-grade teacher Pat Stevens reviewed different kinds of equipment. Then parents and students started raising the money. Children sold pizza kits and candy and brought change into school to place in a jar.

"The kids worked hard," said parent Tracy Snodderly, 28.

Andrews said planners also drew designs and sought approval from the Washington County Board of Education. Schlotterbeck said parents and teachers realized the project would not happen overnight.

"We understood because safety was involved," she said.

The group praised Western Enterprise, which donated proceeds from bingo games to help the cause. Andrews said the PTA contacted dozens of local businesses.

"They were the only ones to come through," he said.

Schlotterbeck said neighborhood children often use the playground after school.

"That's why we thought it was important to have a community effort," she said.

Andrews, 39, who has remained in the PTA even though his son is no longer a student, said he feels a special connection to Winter Street Elementary because both he and his wife attended the school.

Now that the playground project is complete, he said the PTA will turn its attention to its next undertaking - buying new computers for the school.

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