New MacAfee Road School Pre-K And K Playground Opened

MacAfee Road School Playground Ribbon-Cutting - 3

The new MacAfee Road School playground was formally opened April 21.

What started out as an idea borne during a night on the school roof came to fruition April 21, with the ribbon-cutting of the new Pre-K and Kindergarten playground at MacAfee Road School.

With students, staff and community members looking on, schools Superintendent John Ravally and two MacAfee students cut the ceremonial blue and gold ribbons marking the official opening of the $30,000 playground.

The new equipment was necessary because smaller children couldn’t easily use the larger playground equipment already at the school, said building principal Bill Grippo.

“Some of the equipment over there is prohibitive to the student because it’s so big,” Grippo said. “This is more geared to the younger children.”

Grippo said he got the idea for the playground while he slept on the roof one night two years ago to honor a deal he made with students as part of a book reading program.

“I got up in the middle of the night, believe it or not, and I looked down and I said, that would be the perfect spot for a playground, then I went back to sleep,” he said.

The effort took a number of fundraisers and some contributions from school parents and local businesses, and some lady-minute help from the school district, Grippo said.

He said that when just about everything was set, playground planners realized they did not have enough money for a fence around the playground. Grippo said the fence was important because students sometimes kicked balls into the street.

Grippo said he called Ravally, and the Superintendent “somehow got the money together” for the fence.

The Somerset branch of Investors Bank was the largest corporate funder, giving Grippo $15,000 for the work.

Investors’ Greg Ginn said the bank wants to contribute to efforts “that will help improve things for the Board of Education and anything in Franklin Township.”

Aolani Obi, a MacAfee 4th Grader, thanked those who helped provide the playground “for their time and effort in providing this beautiful playground for our younger students.”

“Thanks to all of you, young students for many future generations will be able to benefit from this thoughtful and generous gift, and have the opportunity to exercise not only their imaginations, but also their bodies,” she said.

“Thanks to all of you, our younger students will have the opportunity to play, develop healthy bodies and habits, and create countless memories with their friends,” she said. “The difference you have made is priceless.”

Calling the playground “a magnificent space,” Ravally told the students that “just about anything is possible” when “a bunch of folks come together with a common vision.”

MacAfee Road School Playground Ribbon-Cutting - 10

MacAfee Road School principal Bill Grippo took the inaugural ride on the slide at the school’s new Pre-K and Kindergarten playground.

Ravally also thanked Grippo for his “strong leadership” in bringing the playground concept to reality.

Kim Gordon, president of the MacAfee PTO, told the attendees that “you should all be proud of the part you played in creating a beautiful and safe place for the children of MacAfee to play.”

“This project has been a great example of cooperation and collaboration of resources within the district and the community,” she said.

Students also planted a tree on the playground during the ceremony.

Other corporate sponsors were AvidXchange, JMK BMW and the Verizon Foundation.

Community partners included former Mayor Chris Kelly; Carl Hauck, the township’s public works manager; Township Manager Robert Vornlocker; Rafeal and Josie Maciel of Maciel Landscaping and Pierre Khater of Pierre’s Landscaping.

School and district staff and parents who played a role in the playground included Ravally, Laura Stratton, Nicola Brown-Williams, Rajesh and Anu Venkateswaran, Sean Cox, Rick Goetz and staff, Nick and Robin DiMeglio, Michael Hall, April Caldwell, Dan Bocchino and former Board of Education member Betty Whalen.

2016 New MacAfee Road School Playground



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