After more than a year of planning and a couple days of temptation, students at Albert Einstein Elementary School in Redmond now have one more reason to look forward to recess.
On Thursday, the school held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its new playground equipment. The 40-foot-by-40-foot structure — which includes monkey bars to cross, bars to slide down, plenty of areas to climb on and a “triple shoot” tri-level basketball hoop — was installed by Northwest Playground Equipment, Inc. right before school began on Tuesday, but had been fenced off until the ceremony. While this was to deter students from playing on it, the fence only got them more eager as many would spend recess at the fence, looking through, “googly eyed” in excitement, said principal Melissa Pointer.
“The anticipation has been building,” she said.
Pointer added that during daily classroom visits in the last few days, students have been asking her, “When do we get to go on the new playground?”
Bringing the new $27,000 structure to Einstein was a joint fundraising effort among the students and PTSA as well as a grant from the Melody S. Robidoux Foundation, an organization that assists in bringing playgrounds into schools and neighborhoods.
“It was an amazing effort on our entire community,” said Pointer, adding that Einstein’s “small but mighty” PTSA is consistently working to bring great things such as the new structure to the school.
PTSA treasurer Kari Haegele said planning for the new equipment began at the end of the 2010 school year. The student council planned a walk-a-thon fundraiser, which took place at the end of the 2011 school year. Einstein’s PTSA matched the funds they raised.
“It’s so fulfilling to see a project come to fruition,” Haegele said. “It was so long in the planning stage. The entire school should be proud of the effort put forth by the students.”
Sixth-grader Katie Chalmers, fifth-grader Jenine Shafi and fourth-grader Maya Demeter were all part of the student council last year and helped plan the walk-a-thon. The three girls participated in the ribbon cutting and said being included and so involved in the planning process for the new playground has made them feel part of the community Pointer mentioned.
“I feel like I’m more a part of the school to make decisions,” Maya said.
Katie added, “It feels kind of like we’re growing up.”
Right after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, all three girls were keen to get out and play on the new equipment they worked so hard to bring to Einstein. And they weren’t the only ones.
“I’m probably going to get out there and climb around a bit too,” Pointer said with a laugh. “Young and old, everyone is excited about it.”
In addition to the new playground, other areas around Einstein have received a facelift. The most notable would be a 60-foot-plus-long underwater mural painted on one of the school’s fences. Pointer said the artwork goes with the school’s otter mascot and was painted by volunteers with a group of local churches. She said more than 50 volunteers helped with the project, which included replacing plywood along the fence and painting the mural as well as helping teachers in the classrooms.
“We are really, incredibly thankful and touched that so many people in our community care about our school,” Pointer said.