School gets a playground makeover

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Students at Cherry Drive Elementary School in Thornton will start their upcoming school year with some snazzy new playground equipment.

The school has received a $95,300 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and the Colorado Health Foundation for a revitalization of its play yard.

Before being awarded the grant, school staff, parents and students worked closely with Tri-County Health Department and the Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD) on a master plan funded by Tri County Health.

“The master plan was truly a collaboration. The idea was to really rejuvenate the current playground and have the design in place before applying for the GOCO funds,” said Amy Bruce, director of grants for the Adams 12 Five Star School District.

“The school and parents have been involved from the ground level in development of the plan, and their ownership and excitement for the vision is palpable”

The additions to Cherry Drive’s playground will include an outdoor classroom covered by a shade structure; a physical-activity plaza; nature-inspired play structures, including a honey bee and ant; and a raised learning garden complemented by a wellness curriculum allowing students to grow vegetables that will be donated to the Thornton Food Bank.

Bruce said the design is meant to draw students into their natural environment, which ties into the theme of the school.

“At Cherry Drive, students are encouraged to be healthy, be physically active, eat well, speak well, get along with others well and work well with others,” she said.

“This playground will help the students do all of these things and will also be a reminder to students to do those things.”

School staff want to eventually add a grass field and fitness trail.

Bruce said the school will apply for additional grant funds for this part of the project.

Bruce said the amount of work and collaboration with the school and with the city of Thornton ha been essential.

Because GOCO grants are awarded to local governments, not schools, the district partnered with Thornton to make the project possible.

The playground renovation is set to be complete before students return to school in August.