The city celebrated the construction of a new playground at School 12 on Saturday morning. School staff, students, and parents assembled at the school yard on North 2nd Street for a ribbon cutting to officially open the playground, which includes slides and a supernova, built in late October.
“That supernova. Oh, my goodness. This is Great Adventure right here,” said Boblyn Dobbs, principal of School 12. She said students have been eagerly using the playground since it was installed eight months ago. The school had to create a playtime schedule due to the demand. “We can tell you the joy that this gift has brought to our students’ faces.”
The new equipment was paid for by Alexandra’s Playground. It cost $60,000, according to the group. This is the group’s 6th playground in Paterson. A 7th playground is slated for School 19.
“It’s something that brings our family together and our community together,” said Andrea Vitale. She and her husband founded Alexandra’s Playground after the untimely death of their daughter, Alexandra, in an accident at a sailing school in 2008.
Alexandra’s life is celebrated through playgrounds that provide opportunities for safe and active play for children in low-income neighborhoods.
“You took sadness and turned it into smiles. We’re never going to meet Alex here on earth, but those who play in these six playgrounds will know who she was,’ said mayor Andre Sayegh.
Sayegh presented the family with a key to the city, the highest municipal honor.
“Having a new facility like this for our children motivates them to come to school every day,” added superintendent Eileen Shafer.
Shafer thanked the family for their generosity.
A few dozen youngsters attended the ribbon cutting event on Saturday. Many of them spent the morning painting the school yard using paint and brushes donated by the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC).
“I think it’s going to boost the morale of the students,” said Lisa Willis, a substitute teacher at School 12, who was helping students to paint the school yard. The school has more than 500 students. 89-percent from disadvantaged background. It has a 35-percent chronic absenteeism rate, almost four times the state average. “It’s going to make them more excited to come to school.”