Morgan PTA raises $40,000 for new playground

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

GOLD HILL — Morgan Elementary is sporting a new playground thanks to the school’s PTA. In just under a full school year, the group raised nearly $40,000 for new playground equipment, PTA president Julie Whicker said.

“That was one of the most expensive projects that we have ever taken on,” she said.

At the end of each school year the Morgan PTA meets with the school’s principal to talk about improvement projects. In the 2014-15 school year, they built the school’s first science lab. Last year, they chose the playground. Whicker explained that the school’s playground equipment was more than 25 years old.

“Not only was it old, but it was small for the kids . . . so it didn’t hold a lot of kids,” she said

So the PTA rolled up its sleeves and got to work. The group picked out a playground set that cost approximately $40,000. Since then, they’ve been working non-stop. In the beginning, Whicker said, they weren’t sure they’d be able to raise that much money – if they succeeded, it would be the largest amount they’d ever raised. But they kept their eyes on the prize: a new place to play for their children.

In addition to their normal fundraisers – a fall festival, a spring fundraiser and a monthly Chick-Fil-A sale in the car-rider line – the group also took up donations at school events, kept a donation jar at the front of the school and held a Christmas dance for students.

“Which was our Christmas present to the kids but also served as a fundraiser for the school,” Whicker said.

And when fundraising came down to the wire in December, the PTA reached out to local businesses.

“That is what got us the last bit of money that we needed,” Whicker said.

The PTA offered corporate sponsorship levels of $300 and $500. Those who contributed were given permission to place a business sign in the front yard of the school that will remain there for three years.

And in March, the new playground went up. Whicker said the kids could hardly wait during the construction.

“They loved it. They were so excited when they were installing, and the kids were looking out the windows . . . the teachers said they were just about coming out of their seats wanting to know when they could go out and play on it,” she said.

Since the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education on April 7 began exploring a scenario where Morgan would be shuttered, Whicker said many people have asked why the school would build a new playground. The answer, she said, is simple:

“Well, we had no idea,” she said.

But she, and the PTA are going to “do their best” to fight the proposed closure.

And far as they’re concerned, Whicker said, Morgan is the best school in the county.

“We’re a small school in the town of Gold Hill and we were able to raise $40,000,” she said. “The community just comes together to support our school, because we know how wonderful it is.”

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.