Seth Boyden School students are enjoying yet another new piece of playground equipment as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the school's Outdoor Learning Center continues to take shape.
The equipment, installed two weeks ago, is officially called the "GameTime Powerscape PlaySystem," however, PTA Fundraising Chair Caryn Emmons said, "I hear that the kids have taken to calling it the Big Castle."
The Big Castle is designed for use by children aged 5-12. The cost for the equipment was $37,025. "It was originally $74,050," reported Emmons, "but I applied for the 'Back to School Playground Grant' with the playground equipment company and they awarded us 50% off." Shipping cost an additional $5,277, and the installation was approximately $15,000.
The entire cost of the purchase, shipping and installation was paid for by the Seth Boyden PTA. The school district contributed mulch.
The Seth Boyden Community has been working hard over the past two years to raise funds to pay for the OLC improvements, including grant writing, individual gifts and events. This past February, the PTA raised $15,000 at an auction gala at Orange Lawn in South Orange. Also this winter, The Seth Boyden Series raised tens of thousands of dollars for the equipment by hosting two events — one featuring Ira Glass of This American Life and the other featuring Tim Gunn of Project Runway.
The Big Castle joins some climbing rocks and a hexamid that were installed last year, with other improvements to come. The overall OLC plan includes more porous paved areas that would be usable in wet weather (currently students are spend recess inside if the field is too wet and muddy), an improved path, improved entrances, and a new amphitheater. Seth Boyden already has notable garden areas including "Strawberry Fields" where classrooms plant flowers, herbs and vegetables.
So how are the reviews for the new equipment?
"What a great few weeks for our community, for the kids and for all of us grownups who have seen part of our dream fulfilled!" wrote PTA President Susie Adamson in an email to the Seth Boyden community. "We opened up the new playground equipment for play last Tuesday. Since then, we have heard many reports from overjoyed children — hurray!"