Harding Family Donates Playground ‘Whirl’

            The Rochester School Committee on June 6 graciously accepted the donation of a playground whirl presented by the Harding family on behalf of their daughter, Chloe Harding.

            Chloe, a Rochester Memorial School second-grader, passed away on February 17 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

            Chloe’s mother, Lindsay, formally presented the donation to the committee, but the plan has been in the works for some time now.

            “In February, we lost Chloe to cancer. One of her favorite things was school,” said Harding. “One of our thoughts when we asked for donations at the time of her funeral,” Harding said, was an addition to the playground.

            The whirl has come a long way, as Harding described the spinning, child-propelled ride that prior generations likely associate with fun, dizziness, and their first introduction to centrifugal force-related injury. Now, she said, the playground piece is regulated and can only reach a maximum of 14 revolutions per minute.

            The age group of the ride is 5-12, and since the younger children’s playground already offers so much, the whirl will be placed closer to the older children’s playground.

            The Harding family will fund the entire cost of the project, including the playground-grade mulch.

            Harding has already worked closely with Principal Derek Medeiros and Facilities Director Gene Jones on the logistics and regulations, and Medeiros said that since updated ADA laws now require paths leading to each piece of playground structure, Highway Department workers have volunteered to assist in creating the paths.

            “Not only was that a great addition to our playground, but it really exemplified her and the fun that she loved to have out there on that structure,” said Medeiros.

            “Chloe was such an important member of the school here,” said Rochester School Committee Chairman Sharon Hartley. “That’s a beautiful way of keeping her memory here and keeping her here. A very generous and very loving thing to do – thank you.”

            Medeiros said the whirl and the pathways should be completed by the fall.

            “What a great idea,” said School Committee member Robin Rounseville. The name of it – the whirl – if that doesn’t make you think of Chloe. … It’s so kind of you as a family to think of the school and I know this place gave Chloe a lot of pleasure.”

            The next meeting of the Rochester School Committee is scheduled for September 5 at 6:30 pm at Rochester Memorial School.

Rochester School Committee

By Jean Perry

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