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Dicy McCullough: Cleveland PTA makes a difference

By Dicy McCullough
For the Salisbury Post
Have you ever thought about all the things a PTA does for a school? Most people aren’t aware of the special activities they sponsor or items they purchase through fundraisers. Each year, PTAs across the country meet to discuss projects for the coming school year. What’s really neat is many of these projects will be enjoyed by students for years to come.
Last year, the Cleveland Elementary School PTA made the decision to buy playground equipment for the school. This decision was made as a result of PTA President Regina Miller and PTA officer Kathy Hagaman noticing that children at recess often stood around, sat or read a book. Regina and Kathy are not only officers of the PTA, but they also work at the school, Regina as a teacher’s assistant and Kathy a reading tutor. Trying to encourage children to play, they often heard comments like, “it’s boring, there’s nothing to do.” Regina could sympathize with these comments because some of the equipment was the same as when she was a student.
After the decision was made to buy the equipment, the next step was to find what would best fit the school’s needs. Lack of exercise can contribute to obesity as well as diabetes in children, affecting all areas of life, including confidence. This knowledge inspired the PTA to purchase equipment that would motivate and excite children to exercise, thus building healthy habits for the rest of their lives.
You might think buying playground equipment is not a big deal, but for a small school like Cleveland, it is. Schools having small enrollments don’t get the funding larger schools do to purchase big-ticket items. Funds are based on the number of students, so a smaller school gets less money and has to look for other ways to buy items.
Teachers, parents, staff and students at Cleveland supported activities and events to raise the $10,000 necessary for a matching-funds grant sponsored through the Rowan-Salisbury School System. They had face painting, movie night, fall festival and a much-anticipated fun night. On fun night, one of the activities was to throw wet sponges at teachers.
“None of the teachers seemed to mind getting wet because they knew it was for a good cause,” Regina said.
This spring, when time came to buy the playground equipment, funds ran a little short. That’s when the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Foundation came to the rescue, paying the balance of the amount needed. Everyone at Cleveland was appreciative and thought the project turned out even better than expected.
Other businesses in the West Rowan area that contributed or donated items were IGA, Waggoner Manufacturing and Martin Marietta-Woodleaf Quarry. IGA donated food and drinks for events, while Waggoner Manufacturing spread mulch on the playground and delivered the spirit rocks donated by Woodleaf Quarry. The border around the playground was installed by Kevin Layne of DG Services in Mooresville. Regina challenges other businesses to help this coming year.
Since the first day of school, kindergarten through fifth grade students have been playing, climbing, swinging and having a grand time. Here are some of their comments:
Miranda Miller: “We finally have a big slide to go down. Can we have one on the other playground, too?”
Justin Curry: “It’s the coolest thing out here.”
Ben Lee: “My favorite part is the rock climbing steps.”
Hunter Miller: “I like the tunnel the best.”
Mason Lee: “I like the whole thing.”
Noah: “I want to play on it every day.”
Katelyn Lee yelled: “It’s so much fun! Can we come back and play after school?”
If you get a chance, ride by the school and admire the new equipment, while at the same time appreciate that someone cared enough to work hard for the benefit of children in this community. A special thanks goes to PTA officers Regina Miller, Kathy Hagaman, Linn Waggoner, and Debra Gusler for their vision.
Cleveland Elementary School is lucky to have caring parents like you. Now, take your turn enjoying the new playground equipment. You so deserve it!
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Contact her at 704-278-4377.

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