Video+Story: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Celebrates Completion of Bond 2016 Playground Projects

Teachers, school board members and — of course, students — celebrated the completion of all Bond 2016-funded playgrounds on Wednesday during a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event at Cooley Elementary School.

The students at Cooley and 20 other campuses are now using state-of-the-art playgrounds that incorporate Social Emotional Learning principles and plain, old fun or hundreds of students in EPISD.

“The playgrounds are an important part of the modernization of EPISD,” Cabrera said. “They provide age-appropriate physical activity that goes hand-in-hand with our goal of giving social and emotional learning opportunities for all students.”

At the ceremony on Wednesday, Superintendent Juan Cabrera and members of the EPISD Board of Trustees shared the responsibilities of cutting the ribbon for the new playground with the children of Cooley.

“We are excited that voters approved the bond so for us to show progress 15 months later with the building and installation of these new playgrounds is really great,” said Carlos Gallinar, EPISD Executive Director of Planning & Innovative Schools Construction.

“It’s always great to be a kid and be able to have good equipment and infrastructure to be able to exercise and play. We know that playgrounds are important not only for academics but for youth development.”

At Cooley, the District installed two different play areas, each designed for different age groups. The installation of the new playgrounds goes hand-in-hand with the District’s modernization plan as well as the implementation of both social emotional and active learning.

“These playgrounds allow kids to interact more with each other or individually if they choose. They have different moving and educational components,” Gallinar said. “The playgrounds of yesteryear tended to be static, so we focused on schools that had the oldest equipment and install up-to-date playgrounds.”

Cooley third-grader Gisele Valdez and her classmates have been anticipating the opening of the playground for months.

“Every day kids would try to get on the playground,” she said. “I think it looks amazing. I am excited to play on it and get some exercise. The old playground was looking faded and this one has bright colors and lots of stuff to play on.”

Once schools were identified, a project manager worked with principals to gather their input based on the school’s needs.

“We offered various types of options for them in terms of various colors and equipment for them,” Gallinar said. “We are very proud that we have been able to work with the schools to make sure we are implementing something that at the end of the day they are happy with.”

Putnam Elementary principal Cynthia Sanchez, who was present at the ribbon cutting, is looking forward to putting the new playground at her school to use.

“Putnam is very excited to have a three-year-old program so we can’t wait to start using our new playground, which is specifically designed for three- to five-year-olds,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for our little ones to have a safe and fun environment. The previous playground was built for first to fifth-graders so the dimensions weren’t appropriate for the younger students.”

Story by Alicia Chumley | Photos by Leonel Monroy | Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD