By MARINA WATERS
A playground was the focus for Ridgeview Elementary School’s fundraising goal this year, but the students weren’t playing around when it came to raising money for the project. In fact, the students raised over $40,500 dollars, with the money still coming in.
“Every year we come up with a fundraiser. For the past two years we did a color-thon or a color walk,” Ridgeview Principal Kelley Harrell said. “Having that goal for the playground, our parents really supported that and we raised so much more money this year. They’re very supportive of that and our PTO is already thinking that next year, we’d like to add even more to some of our playgrounds.”
The playground will be placed in the field located at the front of the school and will include six swings, a climbing dome and four other small playground items, Harrell said.
But the future playground wasn’t the only incentive for the Ridgeview Raptors; the school’s music teacher, Joshua McFadden, agreed that if the students met their goal amount of $40,000, he’d let the student who raised the most funds shave his lengthy beard. Third grade student Rylie Conley earned the top spot by raising almost $800 — and off came the beard.
“Well I didn’t think it was going to happen,” McFadden, with a now clean-shaven face, said with a laugh. “Last year they raised $25,000, so to bump it up to $40,000, I thought I was in the safe zone. I thought that was never going to happen so I didn’t even worry about it. But they stepped up to it.”
But it wasn’t all for a ceremonial shave in front of the student body and for a new playground facility setting out front of the school; McFadden and Harrell both said the importance of physical activity for students was a key component in choosing this year’s fundraising goal.
“We feel that getting our kids outside is so important for them to be able to come back in and really be academically focused,” Harrell said. “We want them to have some outdoor time. We want them to get out every day for just the physical aspect and the social aspect. They need time to be out and talk to their friends and let some steam off. They don’t get enough of it.”
Fourth grade student Garrison Jones and fifth grade student Kadence Williams would have to agree. The two Ridgeview students said they looked forward to the new playground, but for Williams, the additional playground means more room for girls to have their fair share of playground access at recess.
“I hope there’s enough room for girls and boys. I hope there’s enough room for football and stuff,” Williams, who is a cross country and softball athlete, said. “I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be better because we’re going to have a newer and better playground and it’s not going to be so crowded and crumpled up.”
The funds raised will be put towards the playground equipment, as well as mulch and timbers for the facility, but the money will also be used to add an octoball court to the sixth-through-eighth-grade playground and swings to the kindergarten-through-second-grade playground.
While Ridgeview awaits its new playground, which is set to be installed in early December, Harrell said next year’s fundraising goal may be set on adding more to the playground facilities. And in the meantime, McFadden will consider getting to work on growing next year’s sacrificial beard.
“I’m okay with it,” McFadden said. “I made peace with it in the idea that not everyone can say that they have a $40,000 beard. So I’ll try to grow another one.”