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VIDEO: Community effort brings new playground to P.B. Smith Elementary

Monday, Feb. 10 | By Hannah Dellinger
P.B. Smith students perched a top the new "explorer dome." -- Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
After a two-year wait, the children at P.B. Smith Elementary School finally have brand-new playground equipment, funded by a parent, teacher and community effort.

“A couple of years ago we had some playground equipment that was down in the zone where the older children play that couldn’t be used any longer,” said Smith Elementary Principal, Dr. Patricia Comstock.

She decided to organize a task force made up of parents, teachers, school administrators and community members that were charged with the task of coming up with a plan for revitalizing the playground.

“I found this to be really exciting, because there was input from a lot of people,” said Comstock. “We started just with a need and from that need it was a visioning process. It truly was a community coming together and the parents really got behind it.”
The work seems to have paid off.

Angela Smoot, a parent of two Smith Elementary students and a task force member, said that her children are ecstatic to be able to use the new equipment before they leave the school.

“I have a fifth grader, and so he’s leaving,” said Smoot. “It’s so neat that he was able to be the first group or class to play on the new equipment.”

Kiley Whitney, a third grader at Smith Elementary, said that she is very grateful for the work that the parents and teachers put into getting the new equipment.

“My favorite thing about the playground is that everybody is having fun and we worked so hard to get this playground equipment,” said Whitney.

Emma Zewatsky, another third grader, was having a blast on the new explorer dome.

“My favorite new thing is the dome, because you get to climb on it and you get to go really high,” said Zewatsky.

The “explorer dome” can hold up to 70 children at a time and is made with cables that the children can climb. The task force also picked two spinning toys, one that the children can sit in, and one that allows for three or four children to stand on.

Over the course of two years, with help from the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, the task force raised more than $60,000 to fund the first phase of the new playground plan.

There were three main fundraisers that were held for the project including a boosterthon, a fun fair and a five-mile fun run at Great Meadows in The Plains.

There is still a remaining “big toy” on the playground that is nearing the end of its viability. The task force plans on raising the remaining $60,000 for phase two of the project, which will replace the “big toy” and add some more auxiliary elements to the playground.
According to Comstock, the playground project was on the Fauquier County Public School Division’s Capital Improvement Plan, however it was near the bottom of the list of projects.

“On the Capital Improvement Plans, we’re several years out,” said Comstock. “When we lost those toys two years ago, we needed something for the kids who are here now. So the parents decided, lets make it happen now, and they certainly did.”

Comstock said that the FCPS School Board was very helpful in approving the playground plans and streamlining the project so that the children who raised the money for the project were able to enjoy the new equipment before the end of the school year and before moving onto middle school.

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