Grand Opening of Blowing Rock Elementary School’s New State-of-the-Art Playground

Published Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 4:27 pm
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The design concept was based on “dream park” drawings from students at Blowing Rock Elementary School. Photo by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

Stakeholders recently held an official grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new playground at the Blowing Rock Elementary School that was attended by students, parents, donors, school staff, town officials, 2015 municipal candidates and other dignitaries.

This playground is truly state of the art; my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son can testify.

The project to refurbish the playground, which was originally built in the ‘70s, came about because children were getting hurt on some of the old, metal playground equipment. Collapsing retaining walls, drainage issues and exposed tree roots for children to trip over were among the hazards at the playground.

Construction for the revamping of the playground began days after the 2013-14 school year ended. Parent and professional landscape architect Ron Cutlip and his wife Cheryl Cutlip got the ball rolling by donating his architecture services. The first thing Cutlip did was reach out to the elementary students for their “dream park” designs.

In June 2014, the old playground equipment was removed and the site was prepared. A new picnic shelter with several benches was constructed. A wonderful playground structure with slides, climbing and scampering apparatuses and more was built with a floor consisting of a Poured-in Place Rubber and Astroturf to soften any falls.

Community members volunteered and donated funds along with a number of local organizations and businesses. It was truly a community event. For example, middle school students helped to wheelbarrow more than 100 trips of gravel to the site.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Karyn Kennedy-Herterich, donor and owner of South Marke, stressed that the rejuvenation of the playground happened without the use of any government funds – with only private donations.

“And it’s debt free,” Herterich said.

Donations of $5,000 or more came from The Farris Foundation, The Ethel & George Kennedy Family Foundation – Karyn Kennedy Herterich and Kathleen Kennedy-Olsen funds, Paula and Britt Medley, Ted & Marry Couch, Elizabeth Muraro Dunaij, Patricia J. Mauldin and Elizabeth Patterson. See an entire list of donors here.

Blowing Rock Principal Patrick Sukow, who is also the playground’s fundraising chair, said that this playground is an achievement that can be enjoyed by the elementary students and the Blowing Rock community at large.

He noted that picnic table shelter and playground could be used for different events and birthday parties. Sukow noted that the smiling faces of the children on the playground playing “makes all the hardwork well worth it.”

While so much has been accomplished, there is still more to do in the future such as an outdoor restroom and an amphitheater. But as Blowing Rock Principal Patrick Sukow, who is also the playground’s fundraising chair, said, “Let’s enjoy the playground for now.”

For more information about this project, click here.

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