Nevaeh Phelan is usually dizzy when she steps off of the “spinner,” a new piece of playground equipment at Lonsdale Elementary.
But the fifth-grader said she likes the apparatus – a small platform that’s connected to a spinning pole – because it fits her personality. “It’s out-of-the-box, and I’m the kind of person that likes things that are out-of-the-box,” she explained.
In May, Phelan and other Lonsdale students got to celebrate the expansion of their playground during a ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured educators and local dignitaries, along with community partners that made the project possible.
Bill Malkes and his family purchased the spinner in memory of his daughter, while his company and foundation, GRIDSMART / GIVESMART, joined with Stowers Machinery Corp. and Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church to fund a large net climber and a giant mole hill climber, along with the remaining costs of the playground.
The city of Knoxville provided 6,250 square feet of expanded space for the playground, which allowed the school to move its soccer field to a better location. Lonsdale students voted on the playground equipment they wanted and chose the colors of the new equipment.
At the celebration, KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas noted that the district and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs have both endorsed a capital plan that calls for construction of a new elementary school in Lonsdale. (Knox County Commission has approved the budget including that plan).
The superintendent also expressed gratitude for the community partners who contributed money for the playground, and joked about his own priorities when he was an elementary student: “My favorite time of the day was recess and play time.”
Kori Lautner, resource coordinator for the Great Schools Partnership – which organized the project – said donors who supported the playground are seizing the chance “to make sure kids in Knoxville have the very best opportunities made available to them, so they grow up to be excellent, contributing members of the community.”
And while students were excited to show off the new equipment, it’s not just about having fun. Lonsdale principal Christopher Deal said he emphasizes to teachers the importance of recess to help students in the classroom.
“The more they move out here, it’s inevitable that it impacts their academic achievement,” Deal said.
Josh Flory is a multi-media specialist with Knox County Schools and writes this blog, Hall Pass, for the KCS website. This entry was originally posted May 15.