Numerous parents, staff members and students past and present braved the scorching heat and threats of rain to build something of critical importance: a new playground for Wetzel Road Elementary. Volunteers gathered at the school on Wetzel Road in Clay from morning until dusk Friday Aug. 3 and Saturday Aug. 4 to help put up the structure.
"We've been talking about it for a number of years," said Kim Canino, a member of the school's parent-teacher organization and part of the playground committee. "We had done fundraisers and all that, but we never got the school community together to actually build the playground."
The project stalled for some time. But this year, with the aid of new PTO officers and an influx of funds, coupled with the growing deterioration of the existing playground, it finally got off the ground. The first phase of the playground was completed that Saturday through the combined efforts of the parent volunteers and Park and Play Installations, a construction company who helped to install the playground.
"We rely on the parent volunteers," Canino said. "There are only three crew members here from Park and Play. The rest are volunteers."
And there were certainly plenty of volunteers.
"The turnout was phenomenal," Canino said. "We much more support than we expected. Without them, forget it. It was just unbelievable."
The entire effort was grassroots, Canino said. The design, created by Miracle Equipment Inc., was selected by the playground committee after PTO President Jim Eichholzer surveyed the kids to find out what they wanted.
"He went around and he watched the kids on [the old playground]," Canino said, "and when he spoke to them, all of the kids wanted something to climb on. So we tweaked the design a little -- added the rock walls."
The new construction is a vast improvement over the old playground, Principal Brenda Zavaski said.