Students need pennies for their playground



    Empty swings blow in the breeze and a forgotten football lies on the field.

    The playground is deserted.

    School is in session and BYU students are not allowed on the grounds yet.

    Perhaps used more by BYU students than Joaquin Elementary’s own students, the playground behind the elementary school is a popular place for family home evenings, group dates, and student families.

    The playground offeres a convenient place to go and forget about school pressures, said Karen Clark, BYU graduate.

    But school principal Don Dowdle said the playground is getting rundown.

    “A new and safer playground is needed,” he said.

    But, neither the Parent Teacher Association’s or the principal’s budget will cover the cost – 20 to 30 thousand dollars for a safer place to play, Dowdle said.

    The school hopes to recruit volunteers to help apply for a grant of $5,000 from the city, said neighborhood chair Bonnie Callis.

    The deadline for the grant is March 3.

    The equipment is outdated and doesn’t compare to other schools in quality or safety, Callis said.

    The slide is too high and the swings are too old to pass current safety standards, said Lisa Polo, PTA co-president.

    Improvements are to be made on the school this summer and the old playground will be torn out to make room for a new parking lot, Polo said.

    The school hopes to raise the money by then and begin construction of the new equipment, she said.

    Joaquin’s students are doing their share to raise money as well. With the help of the PTA, students are collecting tops of General Mills cereal boxes which can be traded in for cash.

    The PTA is also selling T-shirts to the community and holding a carnival for the students, said Julie Barney, PTA co-president.

    A two-liter bottle sits in every classroom, reminding students of their goal of raising two million pennies. Students bring their spare change to fill the bottles. $1400 in pennies has already been raised, Barney said.

    Students contribute what they can, leaving them to look forward to a better, safer playground.

    “I will bring my pennies for a playground that is better than this stuff,” one student said.

    Teachers are encouraging students to bring their pennies by throwing penny parties each time a bottle is filled, Barney said.

    However, the students can’t do it alone. With help from local citizens, our two million pennies can be collected, she said.

    Joaquin welcomes the donations of the public at First Security bank, Washington Mutual, Greyhound or the main office of the school.

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