A swinging benefactor in a beanie and a guitar-strumming principal brought a lighter touch to the opening of a new senior playground at Paterangi School.
Monday’s opening marked the launch of the new term. It was attended by most of the 141 Paterangi pupils, their parents, Board of Trustees chairman Alan Patterson, Playground Creations director Maree Clark, and Waipā District Deputy Mayor Liz Stolwyk.
Guest of honour, and the person allocated the task of officially opening the playground, was one-time Paterangi School student and community stalwart, Janet Macky – the person who fronted with a large slice of the new facility’s $90,000 cost.
School principal Mark Harrop said: “Without Janet, this playground wouldn’t be here. It is a direct result of her passion for our community and her love of the school and our children that we have had the opportunity to put in a new senior playground. We are very grateful to her.”
The remainder of the cost was met through the government funding boost to schools, announced last December, he said.
The playground adds a new dimension to the school, which was built in 1876. There is already one in situ for the younger students; the new facility offers senior children a series of age-appropriate climbing, sliding, overhead balancing and other challenges, and a set of swings at one end will allow younger children to engage without putting them at risk. Senior classes will be able to use the playground on a rostered basis.
BOT chair Alan Patterson said the former senior playground had become unusable towards the end of last year and had to be closed. He said a great deal of effort had gone into delivering a new one, and said: “as a school community we are so blessed to have supporters such as Janet … this is an asset that will benefit our students for years to come.”
As the official proceedings ended, Mark picked up his guitar and led students through the school’s official song – Paterangi.
After expressing her delight at seeing the finished playground, Janet said to the seated pupils: “I am really just a big kid at heart … you’ll see me down here on occasions, playing right here with you.”
The words were scarcely out when Janet laid down the bouquet of flowers presented to her earlier by student council leaders Ella Patterson and Joshua Marais and ran to the basket swing, leading the official charge in a fun-filled test drive of the new facility.