BRISTOL – The students of Mountain View Elementary School got to enjoy the new playscape they won in an online contest for the first time at recess Thursday.
Principal Mary Hawk said she appreciated everything Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and Superintendent Catherine Carbone did to help Mountain View get the word out and get the contest votes.
“It really was a team effort with a lot of people in the community voting,” Hawk said. “The police department, City Hall, everybody was emailing us and saying ‘we’re voting,’ so it’s really everybody’s playscape.”
Mountain View’s 30-year-old, rusting playscape was damaged by vandals and what was left had to be demolished in 2018, leaving mostly just a pile of dirt behind the school. The PTO had raised money six or seven years ago to put in a new balance beam, a seesaw and a small climbing wall nearby, she said.
The pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students had their own separate playscape that school installed four years ago through a grant, the principal said.
“So we had been trying to do fundraising but playscapes are incredibly expensive,” Hawk said. “We collected about $19,000 in the past three years that we’re going to use for additional pieces for our playground, either a climbing piece or some swings, but we did get the main piece by winning the contest.”
Volunteers from ESPN came to the school this past summer and painted a number of colorful game areas on the blacktop, to supplement the hopscotch and basketball hoops, she added. “That was really nice of them.”
Zoey Rupert, a fifth grader, said she was very excited when she first heard about the contest and even more excited when her school won. She said her mother got about 100 people to vote in the contest daily.
When Zoey started at Mountain View back in second grade the old playscape was already gone. She said she would mostly spend recess just walking around, because she didn’t know many other kids. “It was a little sad not having a playground, it was just empty space,” she said.
Zoey participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new playscape, giving a short speech she had written with her mother, but she held back from joining in the crowd of kids having fun the first day it was open – preferring to wait until it’s not so crowded.
However, she admitted she had already unofficially tried it out. “It was really nice,” she commented. “I liked it.”
Rebecca Bougie, a Mountain View paraeducator who has a daughter in fourth grade there, said it gives the kids more recess options. “It’s something different. My daughter said ‘you don’t always know what to play, so with the playscape it’s more stuff to do.’”
Gina Martineau, fifth grade teacher who has two children at the school, said “they are super excited.”
“We’re so grateful for everyone in Bristol and elsewhere that took the time to vote for us,” she said. “We so blessed to have our new playscape.”
Colgate, ShopRite, and TerraCycle, a recycling company that specializes in hard-to-recycle waste, ran the online contest last spring, with the grand prize of a colorful new playscape made from recycled materials, with a retail value of $55,000.
People helped out by voting for the school on the contest website, and bringing their used dental products to Mountain View to recycle. The recyclable products included toothbrushes, empty toothpaste containers, floss containers, and dental packaging materials.
Each vote and each unit (defined as 0.02 lbs.) of recyclable waste counted as one Playground Credit. So the school with the most Playground Credits was the winner.
The recycled materials are used to make the playscapes, according to the contest website. These consist of toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer packaging, and floss containers, which are shredded and melted into hard plastic that can be remolded into new products.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.