Education

Students have part in improving school playground

Audrey Hertert, Clarisse LaJeunesse, Maddie Gibson and Leo Witzke show off knitted bracelets they made for a class project. They’re part of Sunna deForest’s combined second- and third-grade class at State College Friends School that participated in a project to knit bracelets and sell them for $5 to help fund additions to the school’s playground.
Audrey Hertert, Clarisse LaJeunesse, Maddie Gibson and Leo Witzke show off knitted bracelets they made for a class project. They’re part of Sunna deForest’s combined second- and third-grade class at State College Friends School that participated in a project to knit bracelets and sell them for $5 to help fund additions to the school’s playground. bmilazzo@centredaily.com

What Liam Hynes said started off as “just a joke” is turning into a reality at State College Friends School.

Last year, the now 8-year-old had the idea to improve the school’s playground.

He mentioned it to a friend, and the idea spread from there.

As part of an “Everybody Writes Week” project conducted last school year, a combined second- and third-grade class participated in a writing assignment that focused on a playground improvement proposal.

The idea, Liam said, came with building a climbing wall, and the written proposal was sent to Head of School Dan Hendey.

Multiphase playground improvement project headed to Friends School

While a climbing wall isn’t in the final plans, the field part of the school’s play area is getting a multiphase makeover.

The school OK’d the idea in September after reviewing the request and getting a donor who agreed to help sponsor the project if, in return, students would also help with some of the fundraising.

This year, students in Sunna deForest’s class made knitted bracelets.

On Friday, some of the second- and third-grade students went to different classrooms marketing the project that allowed them to knit the bracelets and sell them for $5.

“Knitting isn’t forced on the kids, but it’s a big part of class,” deForest said. “It supports brain development and offers the opportunity to express themselves. They’ll say, ‘This bracelet isn’t worth $5,’ but we remind them it’s supporting the playground.”

Students have $1K fundraising goal

Money raised will help benefit playground project costs. The goal is to raise $1,000.

What the students don’t raise will be offset by donor funding, Hendey said.

“I think what some (children) noticed is there wasn’t a lot of what we call ‘imaginative play,’ ” Hendey said.

When students go from first- to second-grade, the playground area they use is different.

The school has a traditional playground near one side of the school, and a field area for games on another.

The field area is what’s getting the additions, while still having a big enough space for games to be played, such as soccer or football, Hendey said.

Improvements include play area, imagination house, Gaga Ball court & life size building blocks

It includes a nature play area, imagination house, ga-ga ball court and life-size building blocks.

That could be completed as soon as the spring.

Phase two includes creating a “maker space” in the field area, which promotes interactive learning by creating things.

“I don’t think we have enough imaginative play — there’s not enough opportunity for kids to be kids,” Hendey said.

He said research shows imaginative play is a key part of education through social, emotional and physical means.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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