EASLEY – When Forest Acres Elementary School needed funds for a new playground, it was the students who came together to raise the money.
“In recent years, our playground equipment was not up to code,” said Denni Alexander of the parent teacher organization. “The old equipment was pulled out, and because of the cutbacks, it wasn’t in the budget to replace it anytime soon, so the students decided to rally together and raise the money to buy their own playground.”
Alexander said the students raised enough money to purchase the playground equipment after the fund raising fees were covered.
“The students were able to raise over $33,000, and once the fees were paid to cover the fund raising events, ended up with just over $17,000,” she said.
Forest Acres students found a variety of ways to contribute to the playground fund.
“We had a fundraiser in the spring where all of the children participated by running laps for pledges,” Alexander said. “It included the entire student body and we had some kids who would get $5 a lap and we had some kids who would bring in envelopes with pennies from their piggy banks.”
According to Alexander, the playground equipment will be the first of four total phases.
“This is our first phase, but we are going to do four,” Alexander said. “It will be a complete playground by the time we are done. The initial fundraiser paid for the first phase, but we will have another one in the spring to pay for the second phase.”
The Parent Teacher Organization expects the students to take pride in what they have accomplished.
“We want this playground to be something the children can see they worked together for,” Alexander said. “We want them to see what hard work, saving money, and working together can do. The kids have been so excited watching this go up and they are telling their parents about it. They will have a lot of pride and ownership in their school.”
In a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning the school’s principal, Darian Byrd, took time to address the crowd of students and PTO members gathered at the new playground.
“We had to work as a team and get our parents and neighbors and friends to help us,” Byrd said. “We are going to have the mayor cut the ribbon on the playground and then we need to let out a big “woo-hoo” so they hear us in downtown Easley.”
Mayor Larry Bagwell attended the event and also addressed the crowd before cutting the ribbon to officially open the playground.
“Having lived in this community all of my life, this is a great event,” Bagwell said. “It is great to see these kids have a plan and see it through. It is a joy to be here.”