May 26, 2016 -- Its red and green slides, swings and loops sparkling in the morning sunshine, the new 21st century playground at K.C. Heffernan Elementary School officially opened for business on May 26 after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that was attended by school, village and town officials, volunteers, state Sen. John DeFrancisco – and dozens of children eager to get scampering.
Two years ago, the school’s Parent Teacher Organization teamed up with Principal Gary Bissaillon to form a playground committee, led by Kathleen “Kat” Gardiner. The group spearheaded an aggressive fundraising campaign that was augmented by an allocation from the Board of Education and a $50,000 grant from DeFrancisco’s office. The group also rallied an army of volunteers to install the playground May 13-15. (See related story.
“We knew we had the heart and the ability to raise it up, which saved us $15,000,” Ms. Gardiner said. “We rocked it. We really did.”
Mr. Bissaillon marveled at the tenacity of the volunteers during the community build weekend, which was hit by unseasonably cold temperatures, rain and even some snow.
“The school is part of the community, and the community is definitely the center of the school,” he said.
Interim Superintendent Judith Pastel described what happened when Mr. Bissaillon told KCH students that the playground was open for use earlier this week: “The whole building shook because there was so much excitement and energy.”
Mr. DeFrancisco reminded those gathered beside the playground that “it wasn’t a grant from me, it was a grant from you. I brought your tax dollars back to Marcellus.”
The senator also drew laughs when he said he wanted to thank Ms. Gardiner a million and Mr. Bissaillon “a bazillion” (which rhymes with the principal’s name).
The speeches, thank-yous and ribbon-cutting safely out of the way, the students reminded the adults what the ceremony was really all about – as they barreled from their seats onto the playground.
Interim Superintendent Judith Pastel talks to KCH students about their favorite part of the new playground.
State Sen. John DeFransisco gratefully accepts a T-shirt like those worn by volunteers during the
community build from Board of Education President Ryan Riefer. The senator said he was relieved
it wasn't "another plaque."
KCH Principal Gary Bissaillon talks about the two-year odyssey to fund, buy and build the playground.
Unleashed! KCH students barrel onto the playground.