At some point last year, members of the Rochester Memorial School Parent Teacher Organization began talks to form a special subcommittee for the purpose of allocating roughly $27,000 that had been raised by Susan Norton, the school’s former Assistant Principal, for the purpose of constructing a new playground.
Since Norton retired in 2010, nothing had been done with the money, so the PTO nominated mothers Donna Forcier (who is also the treasurer for the PTO) and Erin Bednarczyk as members of this subcommittee.
In January, the Playground Committee was formed. Fast-forward to the Rochester Memorial School Committee meeting earlier this month, and you have the newly approved $29,000 structure that is scheduled for construction in July.
Forcier and Bednarczyk, alongside Cindy Maak, who designed the structure and who has designed and taken part in the construction of more than 800 playgrounds, presented the project to the RMS School Committee, which approved it.
“We’re very excited to have a play space for the students for years to come,” Bednarczyk said.
Maak, from Rochester, has also worked on playground projects at Old Hammondtown, the Dexter Lane Community Playground, and two at Sippican Elementary School. She designed the structure, and upon her design, the Committee obtained quotes from several vendors, with Miracle Equipment coming in as their top choice.
The playground, which is meant for students in grades two through six, can accommodate up to 67 children at one time, and will be constructed outside of the newly built C-Wing at the school near what is currently called the soccer field. According to Maak, the surface area of the playground will be constructed of a wood composite felt, and most of the material for the structure itself is constructed of steel, which is cheaper and more durable than plastic.
Maak said that the playground will include such special features as a sign language panel (with each letter of the sign language alphabet), a “Bongo Jungle Climber,” which helps the kids work on their “balance and perceptive input,” and a therapeutic swing, among countless other pieces.
She added that once construction is complete on the playground, her work is not complete.
“You guys buy them, but they’re always going to be mine,” said Maak, who carries extra hardware in her car at all times for repairs and who likes to observe the playgrounds once she’s done to see what’s popular with the kids.
“I like to see exactly what the kids do with the stuff,” she said.
Maak said that they could use about 25 volunteers for the assembly, which will take one day to complete.
“There’s plenty to do. And there are positions for light duty, keeping track of things, etc. It’s a long day – from sun up to sun down – but we’ll get it all done.”
The group hopes for a Saturday build in July, but a specific date has not yet been announced. The Rochester Lions Club has already said that they will sponsor a cookout that day for the volunteers.
The School Committee also approved another fundraiser for the Playground Committee to help come up with the rest of the money needed for the project, which is about $2,000.
For more information on the new playground at RMS or to volunteer, visit www.rmsplaygroundproject.weebly.com.
By Nick Walecka