The kids could not contain their excitement because of the shiny, new blue and orange playground that mocked them behind the flimsy but restraining ribbon holding them back. It would be theirs as soon as the frustrating ribbon was cut. All of a sudden, a wave of excitement rippled through the crowd as a teacher moved toward the ribbon. The kids counted, “1, 2,3…” and the playground was released.
At Todd Elementary School in Briarcliff Manor on Monday, September 24, 2012, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to inaugurate the new playground. The playground was mainly designed for the kindergarten through second graders to play on during their school recess time.
Mrs. Rosen, the vice president of the Briarcliff Board of Education recalls the happiness of the Briarcliff at the ceremony. “The kids all signed the ribbon,” Mrs. Rosen said, remembering how the children couldn’t wait to be part of the fun. “When Mrs. Baruch (a kindergarten teacher) cut the ribbon, some kindergarteners were so excited that they just ran up and started playing on the new playground!” However, all the kids had to get a safety lesson given by the gym teachers before truly getting to use the beautiful new structure.
It only took the playground contractor a couple of weeks to build the whole thing but there was a storm in the middle, which made things a little difficult. Fortunately, the architects and builders were able to pull through and have the play area constructed. There are many activities that are fun and challenging for students ranging from Kindergarten to second grade, including climbing activities; the architect especially designed the playground for the age group of five to eight year olds. The playground includes two slides, a zip line, a rock wall connecting to the main structure, round monkey bars, a dinosaur skeleton shaped structure and a huge spider-web for the kids to climb on.
After speaking with children in second and third grade from an after school YMCA program, it was concluded that the spider- web and the zip line the most popular plaything.
Jennifer, who is in second grade at Todd School says, “The new playground is funner for the bigger kids than the old one.”
Two first graders, Karina and Marenna, absolutely love the playground. Karina says that, “It’s the best! It is way better than the old one from last year. The playground from last year had old and dirty equipment. This year, everything is brand-new!” Marenna spent a full two hours at the playground over the weekend and didn’t get bored at all! This proves just how occupying and fun the new playground is for kids.
Mrs. Krumholtz, a second grade teacher at Todd School, said that her class waited for the playground with great anticipation and they love it. “There is so much more equipment, which makes it more engaging for the children. In addition to having more fun, the children also get more physical activity.” Mrs. Krumholtz also likes that the playground is blue and orange, which are the colors of Briarcliff.
Mrs. Krumholtz also mentioned that the new play area was much safer than the old one, having a new, soft rubber material on the ground instead of the pebbles that used to be there. The safer, rubber ground was installed by a company called Playsites and Surfaces.
Mrs. Tomaskovic, another second grade teacher, surveyed her twenty kids about the playground. All of her students liked the new playground in general. Sixteen students said that they preferred the new playground versus the old playground. Only four students said that they thought the old playground had more of a variety of equipment.
Feelings of joy were expected, considering that the kids had nowhere to play for a few weeks during the start of school. All of the children had to play either on the blacktop or on the field. They were not able to truly enjoy their free recess time while playing on the blacktop and field because in short, there wasn’t much to do. “It was not fun,” said Karina. “We couldn’t really do anything.”
Many teachers agree that having playtime during the school day is vital to youngsters. It is important to take breaks when learning. Young children especially need time to release their energy. Finally after a few weeks, the youngsters had the thrill of new scenery and activities to take part in during their recess. At last, they were able to truly enjoy their recess time and release their stored energy.
Though the kids who currently get to play on the new equipment may be thrilled, some other Briarcliff students wish they could use it too. Matthew, a fifth grader at Todd says, “Everybody wants to try it.” The third through fifth graders now even feel that their playground is outdated, even only being a few years old itself.
“I wish I could use that playground,” says Sarah Albert, now a sixth grader at Briarcliff Middle School. “ But they have needed one for a while.” Some high school students are also feeling the nostalgia of the loss of their old childhood play place, remembering the fond memories of their old playground.
However, once the school board approved the budget; it was time to build a new one. Oddly, the old playground was actually knocked down before the budget of $160k was approved. Although there was a lot of controversy about this, the building of the playground for all kids in kindergarten through second grade was clearly a cherished endeavor.