Saint Mary Catholic School celebrated the completion of its playground last month with the students, parents and staff. The playground has been a vision since the spring of 2017 when principal Darlene Smith introduced the idea to the school board.
“Social interactions that occur on a playground cannot be found anywhere else,” Smith told the board.
Once the vision was introduced, it took a life of its own and parents were eager to become involved. Courtney Gallimore spearheaded numerous fundraisers such as the Taste of Arts Nights, which provide for community members to enjoy creating seasonal pieces while spending time with friends. Jodi Reno held a Route 50 Yard Sale where all profits were directed toward the playground fund. Parents became involved through the school’s Tennessee Raffles, candy sales and popcorn fundraisers. The school also had numerous private donations that contributed to the Saint Mary Catholic School Playground Fund, making it possible to make the dream a reality.
Then in September, the Saint Mary Knights of Columbus men, led by Jim Hehl, broke ground on the playground. With many helping hands and hearts of parents, spouses and the Knights of Columbus men, the first piece of equipment was set in concrete – the swing set. It took weeks of hard labor to install the Recreation Outlet playground equipment and jungle gym. The final stage of laying the gravel occurred the weekend of Oct. 14.
With rakes in hand and backhoes in place, the playground was just a blink away from having students run, swing and slide.
In the meantime, the students took note of each phase of the playground completion. A day didn’t go by when Smith didn’t hear one of the students ask, “Ms. Darlene, when do we get to play on the playground.”
Her response was always, “Soon.”
Not only did the playground need to meet all the safety requirements, but weather played a part in some of the delays. Soon came on Nov. 2 and the students were absolutely ecstatic when they heard the news that this was the day they had been waiting for.
A balloon celebration was held to reveal a plaque that will be displayed on the fence in the playground. The plaque says: “Thanks to all who gave generously to make this playground possible for our children.”
Smith shared a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that read: “You start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
“We are so thankful to have such an amazing playground for our children,” Smith said.
Submitted by Darlene Smith, principal, St. Mary Catholic School.