Essex Elementary raising funds for new playground
For many schoolchildren, the best part of their day is recess.
But for the students of Essex Elementary School who have had to deal with an aging playground and falling apart equipment, recess is just not as fun as it could be.
The school will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018 and as a way to honor this milestone, the Essex Elementary PTA kicked off massive fundraising efforts in
order to build a new playground.
“We thought, ‘what a great way to celebrate that we’ve been part of this community for 100 years.’ But it is no small undertaking, especially considering how much playgrounds cost,” said Amy Schafer, the PTA vice president.
The playground currently at the school is 25 years old, erected in 1995 at the same time the school was moved on to Mace Ave. from its original location on Eastern Blvd. It’s feeling its age, Schafer said, adding that a lot of the equipment is rusted and no longer up to code and is in various states of disrepair.
“It’s so important, being able to go to a playground and just and play with your friends without having to wait in lines because there’s not enough equipment.”
The PTA has been discussing the new layout and design of the playground with their gym teacher. The new equipment, such a monkey bars and new swing sets, will be geared towards growing fine motor skills and building upper body strength.
Essex Elementary also has what they called “inclusion students” which are students from all over county that have special needs that only Essex and it’s specialized classrooms can tend to. So, the biggest change with the new playground is that it will much more handicap-accessible, giving every child the opportunity to play.
In the next few months, members of the PTA will be sitting down with Baltimore County contractors to nail down what features to put in.
Schafer calls the fundraising a “collaborative effort” since it started in 2016, saying that they have received support from all over Essex.
“Essex Elementary is one of the oldest schools in the area. Most of our families and kids live within a onemile radius of the school and they know it’s a huge part of our community so we reached out to anyone we can that can help us,” she said.
And many local businesses have stepped forward. One of the first fundraising efforts was a “penny war” where students were expected to bring in pennies and other change and the class who brought in the most money won a pizza party provided by Pizza John’s. Schafer laughs as she recalls one student brought in $300 in pennies.
Bengies Drive-In Theatre also is getting in on the action. On Thursday, October 19, they will host a triple-feature of Halloween-themed children’s movies for $20 per car and then donate all the proceeds from that night back to the PTA’s play- ground fund.
Even without removal and resurfacing costs, the project will cost close to $45,000 so Schafer is hoping the movie screening is a success.
If the playground is successfully installed by 2018, the school will celebrate with a community party and grand unveiling, complete with a ribbon cutting.
“We’ve been working really hard on this. It’s about making it a better place for our children. This playground will be around for years and even if our kids don’t get to play with it, we know we’re leaving this behind for posterity.”
Any businesses or residents interested in helping out with the fundraiser can e-mail email@example.com. Those interested in Bengies tickets can also reach out to that address.
The first Essex Elementary School building.
The Essex Elementary Class of 1928.
Student Angela McDowel in front of Essex Elementary during her first day of school in 1953.