GARDEN CORNERS - The first phase of a new playground project featuring new equipment at Big Bay de Noc School is expected to begin this summer, though organizers are looking for community help in funding a second phase of the project.
According to Mary Gollakner, a second-grade teacher at Big Bay de Noc who has spearheaded the project, after approximately 20 years the playground is finally coming to fruition.
The new playground, called Paws to Play alluding to the district's team mascot, the Black Bears, will begin installation this June with new equipment.
"The first phase of the two-part playground has been paid for through sinking fund dollars," explained Gollakner. "The board approved $125,000 during the April board meeting after a committee of people began looking at designs and working with a consultant."
Committee members are now working on funding the $65,000 second phase of the playground project.
The playground currently has two play units that are approximately eight years old, but the remaining units are older having been brought to Big Bay de Noc when many of the schools in the area were consolidated.
Students have been involved in looking at the available structures for the new playground and have also been raising money through various fundraisers for phase two, according to Gollakner. They have raised approximately $500 through a change war as well as $2,500 in sponsorship monies through a recent walk-a-thon.
"We do have a committee of about 13 people including community members, board members, and other school employees," said Gollakner. "We also have contacted businesses for donation opportunities and a couple committee members are going to be writing grants."
For those looking to donate to the project, gold, silver, and bronze sponsorships will be engraved on the playground's sign for pledges of $1,000, $500, and $250 respectively. However, donations of any size are appreciated, said Gollakner. Pledge sheets can be found in local businesses and in the school office.
The playground sign will also incorporate the first penny for the second phase of the project, found on the playground by second-grade student Abby Abrams.
"Our small school is seeing a big dream come true," said Gollakner. "We would like to send a big thank you to the school board and all community members for realizing the importance of child play. This play is so essential to promote strong minds, strong bodies, and long lasting friendships and memories."
Though it's a school-wide project, Gollakner noted the playground will be open for community use.
For more information, or to donate to the project, contact Gollakner at (906) 644-2773, ext. 109, or Angie LaLonde at ext. 134.