By Jesse Wood
July 28, 2014. The students of Blowing Rock Elementary School (BRES) will have a new playground for recess after extensive renovations are completed this summer – one that they helped design. Construction started days after the 2013-14 school year ended, and the goal is to complete the project before the 2014-15 school year begins.
John Speckmann, a BRES parent and member of the Blowing Rock Playground Fundraising Committee, said that the need for the project came about because children were getting hurt on some of the old, metal playground equipment. Collapsing retaining rock walls, drainage issues and exposed tree roots for the kids to trip on were among other hazards on the grounds of the playground, according to the Blowing Rock Cares website about the rejuvenation effort.
Also, an amphitheater will provide a “glorious new place for outdoor education and performances,” and the roofed picnic structure has been expanded, according to plans on the project.
Demolition of the old playground equipment was the first of the work to occur. Since then, grading and excavation work and the installation of the some of the equipment has been accomplished.
Ron Cutlip, who has two kids that attend the school – Evan, a kindergartener, and Ava, a fourth grader – has donated his services for the project. He is the landscape architect and supervisor of the site construction. He also designed the plans for the extensive renovations.
Cutlip said that students in art class at the school helped design the project by creating their own “dream playground” concepts that Cutlip then incorporated into his design. Some of those designs included a tree house and swinging bridge. See images of the kids’ drawings below.
“The main feature is a brand new piece of playground equipment made of hemlock and timbers – all made from timbers in the Boone and Blowing Rock area. Some timbers are specifically from the Town of Blowing Rock,” Cutlip said.
Cutlip noted that the tree house, a swinging bridge, several slides and a climbing apparatus are among the new equipment highlights.
Speckmann said that this rejuvenation has been well received from the Blowing Rock Elementary School community.
Speckmann said that funding for this project has come from local individuals and business. He mentioned that some businesses have set out tip jars for customers who want to contribute. He mentioned, in particular, that SouthMarke owner Karen Herterich and family have donated a “significant amount” of money to the project and is helping to raise additional funds. Blowing Rock first graders also raised $1,117 selling lemonade on Main Street in May.
In addition, a raffle to benefit the project will take place on Labor Day. The person who purchases the winning ticket will be taking home a 1931 Model A Roadster, courtesy of Paul and Britt Medley, valued at $28,000. Only 350 tickets at the price of $100 will be sold, according to a flyer of the raffle. The limited number of tickets will be available up to Labor Day and may be purchased at these establishments in Blowing Rock: Serves You Right!, Monkees, Gregory Alan’s Unique Gifts and Home Furnishings, Town Tavern, Blue Ridge Mountain Club and Blowing Rock Produce and Provisions.
For more information, click here.
Want to help?
Donations can be made by check to:
Blowing Rock School, PTO
P.O. Box 228
Blowing Rock, North Carolina 28605
Donors so far:
- The Ethel and W. George Kennedy Foundation/Karyn Kennedy Herterich and Kathleen Kennedy-Olsen
- Linville Resorts
- Jeff and Denise Brandon
- Paul and Britt Medley
- 4 Forty Four Inc. (Custom Home Builders/BR Parents Kevin and Lillie Troyer)
- Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer (Westglow Spa)
- Blowing Rock Rotary Club
- Hubert Family
- Adam Hill DDS
- Blowing Rock Fire Department Aux #1122
- Fourth Grade Donation
- Doug and Barbara Matheson
- Polar Plunge
- Peter Wickham
- Town Tavern
- 1st Grade Donation
- Elizabeth Muraro Dunaj
- Square One