Enjoying recess on a well-equipped playground can offer students a wonderful balance to the rigors of their academic instruction. Through fundraising initiatives headed up by Oak Mountain Intermediate School’s PTO, students are now enjoying new equipment as well as upgrades to some of their long-standing favorites.
“I am very excited to be a part of this project and hope that the new equipment will be enjoyed by many students for years to come,” shared Tracie Tommie, secretary of the PTO.
The PTO fundraised over $17,000 over the past few years in order to refurbish existing playground equipment and to add universally accessible pieces.
“Our playground upgrade was recently completed, courtesy of our PTO, who never fails to be supportive of all of the programs here at OMIS,” said PE Coach Mike Goodwin. “Included in the upgrade were some repairs to various pieces that were vital to our playground continuing to meet safety requirements. In addition, we had some new pieces installed.”
Goodwin said one piece of equipment, the OmniSpin spinner, seems to already be a popular hangout area for the kids. The OmniSpin is a merry-go-round piece of equipment which is fully accessible for all students. Another popular piece is the tightrope bridge, which allows kids to work on balance and upper body strength. Another new addition that also helps kids build upper body strength is a loop horizontal ladder.
“As always, we are grateful to our PTO for their vision and desire to provide our kids with every possible opportunity to grow physically, emotionally and academically,” added Goodwin.
While engaging students in academic instruction that promotes depth of thinking, processing, and application is a priority, there is also value to be found in providing opportunities for movement and for practicing effective social skills in different settings.
“I see that recess promotes not only physical health and social growth but also cognitive performance,” said Jenny Wood, OMIS Teacher of the Year. “Our playground offers students the opportunity to play, practice effective social skills, and imagine on their own outside the walls of the classroom.”
Wood says the positive effects of these experiences can be seen in the focused energy students put forth in their academics and in their positive behavior choices.
“Ours is truly a Parent-Teacher organization,” said OMIS Principal Dr. Pat LeQuier of the importance and value of a great working partnership between parents and educators. “Together, we identify our school’s needs, set goals, and get to work. Our teachers and staff members are so enthusiastic! They actively participate in fundraising activities organized by our PTO members who put in countless volunteer hours to ensure each event is a success.”
“Together, we have taken on a number of projects that have tremendously enhanced our learning environments,” LeQuier continued. “For example, portable Chrome Book carts now enable whole classes to conduct research and engage in innovative classroom instruction and product development. We also continue to dedicate funds in support of the upgrades to our Library Media Center’s learning environment and e-book collection, which supports an unlimited number of students in accessing and reading the same book at the same time.”
LeQuier expressed how very fortunate she is to work with parents in identifying areas of need and fundraising to implement upgrades, such as the playground equipment, which benefits OMIS students and the community as well.
“Our school has a great partnership with our local leagues for youth baseball, football, and cheer. Many years ago, the leagues constructed baseball fields on our school property,” LeQuier said. “By day, the fields are available for use by our PE department, teachers, and students. In the evenings and on weekends, the fields and stands are filled with children and families from our community and the playground is a favorite of those who have siblings involved in structured play.”
“Ask your child about their favorite new piece,” added Tommie. “I am sure they would love to tell you about all of the fun happening on the playground!”