Since they learned in January about a $100,000 grant from Target Corp. and Ellen DeGeneres’ show, members of the James Sales Elementary School community have been busy deciding how to put the money to work.
After meeting with students, parents and community members, officials at the high-poverty school in the Franklin Pierce School District decided on several improvements, including:
• Three new fitness/play stations for the school playground.
• A new asphalt walking track.
• Trail signs to encourage learning activities with parents and kids.
Principal Kristen Schroeder said the hope is that encouraging more active play will help kids reduce conflict and bullying behavior, while encouraging family activity after school hours.
The school also ordered a new sound system for the gym, as well as furniture and materials for kindergarten classes.
There are future fundraising plans to pay for a relocated basketball court, community garden space and an updated school library.
“Already, the atmosphere around our school has changed,” Schroeder reports. She said the school was contacted by Safe Streets about a block watch. The Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) kicked off its program with a packed gym full of fathers, father figures and students.
And this fall, the school will once again continue its 12 Days of Hope – the program that first drew attention to the school and helped it earn the grant. School staff members gather donations and give kids a gift or fun experience during 12 days leading up to winter break. This past year, James Sales kids also donated ornaments and toys to hospitalized children