Fickett Elementary was hoping for about 250 volunteers to show up Saturday for a playground build partnership with KaBOOM! and Foresters. About 540 showed up. That’s the kind of passion that the Ben Hill neighborhood has for the school, which welcomed a completely new playground (with a few surrounding extras) over the weekend.
“It’s about the business community supporting the surrounding community, and the community feeling like they have a place they can come to, a place they have a stake in,” said Fickett Principal Dr. Anthony Dorsey. “They built it, they can use it, and they can be proud of it.”
They sure did built it. The volunteers worked throughout the morning to pour some 15,000 pounds of concrete and move 150 cubic yards of mulch in preparing a swingset, a geodesic “superdome,” a spiral slide and an adventure tube in the main playground. Surrounding the playground and nearby are three mendocino benches, two shade structures and two planter bench trellises in this, KaBOOM!’s 1,700th playground! Fickett Elementary physical education instructor Jocelyn Williams helped kick off the activities by leading the volunteers in a morning stretch. The school’s Spirit Club kept everyone peppy with a cheer.
“Atlanta Public Schools is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround, as we’re seeing an increase in test scores, an increase in attendance, and an increase in graduation rates,” Dr. Sharon Davis Williams (pictured above right, opposite Atlanta Board of Education member Yolanda Johnson), executive director for School Reform Team 1, told the audience during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “And we’re particularly proud of the accomplishments of Dr. Dorsey and Fickett, which is a 2009 Title I Distinguished School, and a 2009 No Excuses School. The Fickett staff and Dr. Dorsey have really reached out to the parents to make this a truly community school, and the proof is in this playground.”
Other dignitaries at the ceremony included Georgia State Rep. Roger Bruce (District 64) and Foresters Legal Director Steve Sprague. KaBOOM! Senior Project Manager Justin Fitzgerald served as host for the ceremony. Fickett graduate Toryn Hunter capped the ceremony with her rendition of “Hero,” much to the crowd’s delight.
Volunteers received official thank-you notes from Fickett students with a personalized message. I happened to get one, even though I didn’t lift a finger but to take these photos. It came from Azaria Tirch, who wrote: “I appreciate that some helpers are going to build our playground. Everybody in the school will be so happy. So we say thank you for helping us. Thank you very much.” Cute!
KaBOOM! will return for another playground build on Oct. 22 at Peyton Forest Elementary.