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Baggaley Elementary School playground nears completion in Greater Latrobe

| Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Volunteers work to build a new playground outside the primary classrooms at Baggaley Elementary School in Unity. This playground cost $77,000 with $65,000 raised over years of fundraising through the parent-teacher organization. The school has received about $30,000 in donations and grants.

Five-year-old Tyler Wisniewski is looking forward to kindergarten in a few weeks at Baggaley Elementary School, when he will be among the first students to play on the primary playground.

“I like the logs to climb on,” he said last week while wiping dust from the equipment along with about 60 volunteers who turned out to build the playground in a flurry of activity.

The playground at the Greater Latrobe school along Route 982 in Unity cost $77,000. About $65,000 was collected over years of fundraising through the parent-teacher organization, including special events like read-a-thons and raffle nights.

The space includes swings, sensory objects like chimes and drums, a rock-climbing wall and adaptive elements meant to accommodate physically handicapped children.

“Isn't it amazing?” said principal Kim Hrezo, surveying the progress early Thursday afternoon, when most of the structures were up and volunteers were filling in the final postholes with concrete. “We'll be able to play first day of school, probably.”

Brian Jeffrey, field supervisor of equipment supplier Jeffrey Associates, said the volunteers — including employees from local businesses, school board members and Unity Township supervisors and crews — were divided into teams who were given certain parts of the playground to complete before they were all pieced together.

“We don't just attack with a bunch of people; we have teams of people. ... That's how you get a lot of people to work together effectively,” he said.

Leanne Rubino, an analyst at Latrobe Speciality Metals, led one team that helped install a slide.

“There's a lot of organizations from the community here today. ... It's nice that when they call out for help that there's people in the community that respond,” she said.

Hrezo said she was grateful not only for the volunteers who helped build last week, but for the countless others who supported the project by planning and fundraising.

The equipment company, based in Indianola, has done about six of the community building projects on playgrounds this year and enjoys every one, Jeffrey said.

“It's a festive atmosphere,” he said. “Anytime anybody comes to help, it's just a good feeling.”

Kindergarten teacher Melissa Wisniewski, Tyler's mother, who helped plan the playground with Hrezo and other teachers, said she was glad to see all the planning and fundraising finally pay off.

“It was a lot of hard work, and seeing it now, it's all been worth all of the hard work,” she said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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