By: Deanna Rebro | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: October 2008
(L to R) Kirk Wells, Principal Kelly Taliaferro, Leah Owings, Angie Cianfrone and Heather Palmer plan to turn this field of weeds at Bixby North 5th/6th Grade Center into a comprehensive playground and park.
Some people see only a plat of weeds just north of the Bixby North 5th/6th Grade Center. But members of the PTA and Principal Kelly Taliaferro – Mr. T, as he is known – see a wonderful future playground ready to be enjoyed January 1. All that stands between the community and a new playground is $25,000, a goal they want to reach by October 31.
This is the second year that the beautiful new school has no outdoor area where children can play. Mr. T explains that bond proposals for new schools cover only the buildings and do not include playground funds. Because the school is new, chartered just last year, the new PTA has no residual funds to use.
This past July the state legislature mandated an additional 60 minutes per week of physical education on top of the 60 minutes already required, an obligation that is difficult to meet with no playground on school grounds.
A group of PTA members took the matter into their own hands and came up with a plan for a playground on the adjoining property the school already owns. The concept in mind is more than a playground; it’s a park-like setting with recreation and learning centers for the whole community to enjoy after school.
Plans call for monkey bars, soccer goals, and various levels of pull-up bars and tetherball poles. A backstop for baseball and softball and basketball goals are also included. Benches will be strategically located throughout. The outer perimeter will become an exercise track and jogging trail.
Anchored equipment will be handmade and built to last for generations to come. Kirk Wells, PTA vice president, researched school playgrounds and parks in the area and recommended ideas. “We want our kids to bring their kids here and tell them how they once played on this playground,” he said.
Input from the entire faculty was incorporated into the project. Exercise stations will allow the coach a place for testing and drills. One teacher plans to establish a butterfly garden, and another is planning a section for Oklahoma native grasses.
During after school hours, the area will be open for everyone in the community to use. “A comprehensive park for the community will add value to properties,” said Angie Cianfrone, PTA member and professional realtor.
The $25,000 goal will cover everything needed to make this dream come true. Reaching the goal by October 31 will allow two months to make the transformation. Mr. T, a 29-year veteran in the Bixby school system, says that he is proud to be a part of this historic project. “These are tough economic times, but the people of Bixby are wonderful. They’ll recognize the need for this playground, and we’ll all pull through together,” he says enthusiastically.
Some steel and welding services have already been pledged for the equipment. But two major needs are still pending: New or reclaimed fencing is needed for the backstop, and tree-pruning services are needed. Several large trees on the property will provide a shady respite from the hot sun, but last December’s ice storm damaged many limbs and broke off some that are still nestled within the trees.
All corporate donations of money, materials or services will be recognized in the school newsletter, which will encourage parents to patronize the businesses that support their school.
For more information on the project, call Leah Owings at (918) 527-7101. Checks may be made payable to Bixby North 5th/6th Grade Center – Playground Fund and mailed to Bixby North 5th/6th Grade Center, P.O. Box 635, Bixby, OK 74008. Or you may make a donation at Arvest Bank in Bixby, account #38932001. All donations are tax deductible.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.