Fletcher Elementary School kindergarten teacher Anne Sischo, dressed up as a little girl, came out from behind curtains with a very sad expression on her face.
"Hey Lucy! What's going on? Are you okay?" asked first-grade teachers Chris Emley and Teresa Isabella as they rode in on bikes during a recent assembly.
"No, I'm not okay! I want to play on the playground. The swings are all broke, my friends and I have nowhere to play."
Fletcher Elementary School teachers Anne Sischo, Teresina Isabella and Chris Emley perform a skit for the school to promote fundraising for the playground updates.
"Oh, we feel the same way. We don't go there either. There's never any room for us. You can play with us. Get on your bike and let's go!" Mrs. Sischo looked sad again.
"I don't have a bike," said Mrs. Sischo.
A chime sounds and teacher JoAnn Liffner appeared as the Playground Fairy.
"Don't be sad. I have some great news that can solve your problems." She waved her wand and the new Fletcher playground photo appeared on the screen. "We can get this playground right here this year with your help. It's easy if all of you out there help! We will be holding an all-school fundraiser where you can win prizes!" said Mrs. Liffner.
The Fletcher Playground Committee, consisting of representatives from all grade levels, developed the all-school fundraiser. The kindergarten and first grade teachers created the kick-off skit to raise additional money for the proposed updates to the Fletcher Elementary School playground.
"The new playground will finally provide a play space for our youngest students and special needs students," said UPK teacher Jennifer Schrader. "It will also allow for a larger, safer area for all kindergarten through fourth grade student to utilize."
The school has raised about $48,000 for the project including a $5,000 grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, a grant from the Lakewood Chautauqua South Rotary, a $2,500 donation from Artone Manufacturing and the Jamestown Public Schools' Capital Projects funds. The upgrades to the playground will cost nearly $76,000 with a community build to put the upgrades in. If there isn't a community build, an additional $25,000 is needed to install the equipment. Another fundraiser to sell bricks installed in the new playground will be held after Spring Break.
In its current configuration, the playground is neither large enough to accommodate the overall number of students including the new incoming students due to Rogers School closing, nor is it accessible to their youngest learners under the age of 5 or their special needs students. The new playground will provide additional equipment for students of all ages to build body strength, allow for creativity in music and nature exploration, and provide space for an outdoor classroom.
Donations can also be made directly through the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation's "pass-through" fund called the M.J. Fletcher Playground Project Fund designated for expenses related to the M.J. Fletcher School Playground Project.
"This playground project is vitally important," said Principal Walt Samick. "The playground is not just an extension of the gym classroom. Our playground reaches out to all Fletcher classrooms and the surrounding community. Weather permitting, all classroom teachers use the playground throughout the day to promote social development and to energize the mind and sole. Outside of the school day, our neighbors use the playground. We need every donation to assure by the end of this summer we will have facility that accommodates all our student needs from Pre-kindergarten though fourth grade."