Dedicated for play

? Community and kids celebrate completion of a dream

Swarming on and around their new playground equipment, students at Hillsboro Elementary School showed off their new ?My Community Cares? T-shirts during Friday?s dedication event. After the ceremony, a back-to-school carnival followed in the gymnasium with games, door prizes and food. The event raised about $3,300 before expenses; the money will help with maintenance and future equipment purchases. Patty Decker / Free Press

Hundreds of parents and children attended the dedication ceremony Friday evening for the new playground at Hillsboro Elementary School.

What started as a dream 21?2 years ago materialized into a $215,000 playground area because of a joint community effort, said Rod Koons, USD 410 board member.

Evan Yoder, HES principal, expressed gratitude for everyone?s contribution to the project, whether big or small.

?(The old playground) was an ugly water-filled dusty playground,? he said at the dedication. ?For 12 years since I came back to this building, I have taken a lot of new families around during the year before school started. I made sure those kids wouldn?t ask me about the playground back here.?

Yoder said he wondered about what parents would think seeing the clean school facilities and then looking out at the rusty merry-go-round and the dirt and mud.

Along with being ?ugly,? Yoder said teachers and older students probably remember how a northerly wind would blow up dust in everyone?s eyes.

But on Thursday, he said, the teachers and staff had an opportunity to bring children out to see the new equipment.

?Some hadn?t even seen this beautiful facility, and it was just such a joy to see all the kids and all the fun they had on it,? he said. ?My compliments to the community for putting together this kind of facility, and to the parents who were so great to work with.?

Committed committee

Erin Beavers, playground committee chair, said she joined the site council and playground group at the same time.

?The (original) project began with sprucing up, replacing mulch and painting,? she said. ?Then it rained and we saw what it looked like.

?That picture was worth $1,000 in terms of fundraising because we used it at every opportunity for grants and proposals. We went from a project of sprucing up to needing to do something about the surface material.?

Within a short time, the project took a major leap from selecting a few new pieces to building a whole playground, she said.

?It went from $4,000 to $5,000 after a couple of fundraisers to a $215,000 playground.?

Beavers said she was grateful for a ?truly community effort.?

?From a $1 carnival ticket all the way up to grants of $25,000, everybody is responsible and owns a little piece of this playground,? she said.

Beavers introduced other members of the committee: Mitch Franz, Nicole Suderman, Treena Lucero, Rachel Hein and Malinda Just.

USD 410 Superintendent Steve Noble listens as speakers express gratitude for the involvement of the community to make the $215,000 the playground project a reality. Patty Decker / Free PressOwnership

Steve Noble, USD 410 superintendent, said this project is not only for the students, but also for the community.

?Families can come in the evenings, on weekends or in the summer and play (on the equipment),? he said. ?In essence, it is another park for our community.?

Noble complimented the students about the lime green T-shirts they were wearing at the dedication.

The shirts, said Cynthia Fleming, Hillsboro Community Foundation member, were donated by HCF, which also gave the initial $25,000 to get the project started.

?I want to also thank the (USD 410) board of education for putting in $100,000 of capital outlay funds?it was not easy to do when budgets are tight and times are tough,? he said. ?But it was the right thing to do.?

Noble thanked the businesses for their support, the individual donors, the HCF, and local media outlets.

At first, Koons said, he and others board members were reluctant to ?jump in.?

?Then we saw the excitement and people getting onboard,? he said, ?and there came a time that we had our community to support that project and lead us to this time here.?

Koons thanked the steering committee and the community. ?Our greatest resources are right there,? he said, pointing to the HES students.

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