FCC News Desk
St. Joseph School in North Grosvenordale marked the first day of autumn through a special dedication of its newly renovated playground area. Leading the SJS community in the beginning of the school day ceremony was Father Steven Gulino, Associate Pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux Parish, who offered a special prayer and blessing for the playground. Joining him in congratulatory remarks was Henry Fiore, superintendent of schools for the diocese, David Sizemore, principal of SJS, Lindsay Lehmann, chair of the Parent School Connection (PSC), Nicola “Nikki” Chrzanowski and Kristin Scaplen, parents and co-chairs of the Playground Committee, and Alex DeCarli, a past SJS student who asked Mr. Sizemore to make renovations to the playground during the early portion of the 2018-19 school year.
A great deal of work was done months in advance to renovate the playground. Fundraising began in earnest late last fall with an empty water jug stationed near the front entrance of the school where passersby donated various amounts of currency. Larger donations for the project came through in March thanks to a successful Math Wizards fundraiser sponsored by the PSC along with donations given to Mr. Sizemore for his birthday. Patrons to the annual SJS May Funfest also graciously donated to the cause.
Using a budget of $5,000, the Playground Committee reached out to Ultiplay Parks & Playgrounds from Simsbury to garner ideas about how to best use the current space. It was mutually decided that the current playscape be moved to a more central location for increased student use as well as the addition of spinning cups and a special flower ladder for the Pre-K students in their playground area.
Major renovations to the area began in mid-August when a group of SJS parents, grandparents and friends came to donate their time and talent to clear an area of overgrown brush adjacent to the playground space. Later in September, Stephen Paul, a current SJS parent, was able to take down a large beech nut tree to clear even more space for the playground area. Another crew of volunteers put the final touches on the renovations, as the existing playscape and the new items were put in place along with the distribution of 90 cubic yards of playground mulch donated by the Hull Family of Hull Forestry of Pomfret. Additional donations of generosity from area companies for the renovation of the playground include D & S Recycling, Rawson Materials, Kelly’s Tires and United Rentals.
“We are so happy to see the beginnings of our plans for the playground renovations take shape,” said Kristin Scaplen, adding that this is only phase one of the renovations, with phase two targeted for spring 2020.
“I’m excited to see the difference this makes during recess and interactive play between all grades and abilities” said Nikki Chrzanowski. Finally, Lindsay Lehmann summed up the sentiments of many when she talked about how much “SJS has changed and grown in her six years as the Chair of PSC” and how excited she is for what the future will bring to the school community.
On behalf of the SJS community, David Sizemore thanked the myriad volunteers that made the dream of renovating the playground a reality and especially recognized Nikki Chrzanowski, Lindsay Lehmann and Kristin Scaplen for all of their hard work and effort as the leaders in the effort.
To make a donation to phase two of the renovation of the playground, contact David Sizemore at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (860) 923-2090.