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PTA tackles need for new playground equipment

May 11, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - When Hancock Elementary School first opened its doors in 1977, the children had brand-new playground equipment to go along with the brand-new building.

Now, nearly 30 years later, that same playground equipment still is there and needs to be replaced, according to the PTA, which has launched a series of fundraisers to finance the Panther Playground Project.

"We want to remove everything but the swing sets, which will get updated with new hardware and new seats," PTA member Kristen Robison said.

Two jungle gyms are slated for removal, as is a merry-go-round, a sliding board, several mounted riding storybook characters and an elevated fort that looks like it has seen better days.

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"There are different standards today for playground equipment," Robison said. Plus, none of the current equipment is up to requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Initial plans are to find volunteers willing to help remove the old equipment, Robison said.

The PTA then will meet with companies willing to bring plans for the playground so the group can choose what to put in. The surfacing also will have to be updated because it mostly is grass and mulch.

At the west end of the playground is a blacktopped area with four basketball hoops. Robison said the far side of the surface has no fence and balls constantly are being "lost" in the steep drop-off area there.

"The blacktop will be painted for a variety of activities," Robison said. An area that is covered in back of the school will be improved so children will be able to go outside, even on bad weather days.

A substitute teacher and volunteer at the school, Robison and her husband, Jim, are the parents of Jimmy, 6, a first-grader, and Ryan, 3.

She is doing this for them, as well as the other youngsters at the school.

Robison said the PTA is going for grants, as well as help from local organizations to help make the new playground a reality. Fundraising will be ongoing.

"We have already had a family fun night," she said. The next event will be a School's Out Summer Bash on June 9 at the school, which will feature a yard sale (tables are available for rent), a book sale, games and food.

Cookbook orders are being taken for anyone wanting a collection of 250 favorite recipes from families of students.

There also will be a duck race and a silent auction during summer vacation, Robison said.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the playground equipment project or who wants more information may call Robison at 301-678-7768 or Shannon McKinley, PTA fundraising chair, at 301-678-7648.

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