Mon Valley School opens diverse outdoor physical development area
Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Mon Valley School's new outdoor area is much more than a playground.
Officials cut the ribbon Friday morning opening the educational facility's physical development area designed for students with special needs.
“It's been a year-long project. We hope it is just a starting point, that we can continue to add pieces of equipment through the years,” principal Jack Tachoir said. “In planning the outdoor area, we wanted to ensure it would be utilized by the majority of our students.”
The school at 555 N. Lewis Run Road in Jefferson Hills serves 260 full- and part-time students from kindergarten through age 21.
The area features various balance beams and horizontal ladders, a funnel ball play area, a seesaw and several different types of swing sets including one adapted for wheelchairs. All that equipment was purchased through funds raised at a crafts show.
“It's more than just recreation and leisure,” Tachoir said. “It's skills for our kids ... learning social skills for our students and language development for our students. Those are two big areas. This will give them the opportunity to come out and interact with each other.”
Students enrolled in Building and Grounds, and Industrial Production and Maintenance vocational classes helped build the structures, dig holes, and mix concrete, among other jobs. The project started in September.
Chris Parada, 17, said he learned construction and landscaping skills through the project.
“I'm happy,” Chris said as he looked over the area.
“I dug the holes for the sign and the benches,” said Robbie Gibson, 15. “We helped out with the swings and put hay down for the grass. I really (didn't) know how to do this. This is my first time. The one thing I like to do is dig holes and help out with the grounds, help out around the neighborhood and stuff. I think they're having fun. We've been waiting for this for (a long time). I used the cement mixer and shovels.”
Building and Grounds instructor Mike Harrison said students learned about site excavation and planning prior to putting in physical labor.
“As soon as the school year hit we hit the ground running,” Harrison said. “It's amazing. I think they're not only learning skills about the construction areas and things of that sort, but they're learning about life skills that they need to use. It's great to see them learn and see them do different things. Sometimes people don't give them a chance, and it's great to see them succeed and see them now smiling and having a feeling of accomplishment.”
“This project gives them a really good hands-on authentic work experience,” IPM instructor Ben Latini said. “They can kind of realize and understand that this is what it's like in the real world. Whether it be excavating, pouring and mixing the concrete, layout of the site, erecting the swings itself, everything. This has just been an awesome project for the students. I think they really enjoyed it.”
Paraprofessionals Shelly Marecic and Donna Jugan assisted Harrison and Latini with the students.
Taylor Rental Center provided the heavy machinery. The school also received donations from Home Depot, Taylor Rental, Green Circle, Scotts and Quikrete.
“This really adds to our outdoor areas,” Tachoir said. “We have an outdoor basketball court. We have a nature trail with an outdoor classroom that these two vocational areas built and maintained. We have miniature golf holes that these vocational areas have built. This is our crown jewel right here, no doubt about it. This has been a dream since I started here.”
Tachoir served Mon Valley School for the past seven years and plans to retire at the end of the year.
Harrison said the development area is about 4 acres, and only 1 acre has been used so far.
“We want to see what type of things are the most utilized and favored,” Tachoir said. “We would like to get some type of slide ... The kids have already asked about the slides.”
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Mifflin Area’s reinstated music program proves to be sound success
- Former McKeesport Area players continue pickup game tradition
- Glassport grocery closes for renovations
- Electric problem sparks McKeesport house fire
- East Allegheny school consolidations affect preschool programs
- Homestead to make street cycle-friendly