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Community support makes new West View Elementary playground reality

About Dona S. Dreeland

By Dona S. Dreeland

Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Recess has become a lot more fun at West View Elementary School.

Students, teachers, staff and PTA members recently dedicated the new equipment at one of the school's two playground areas. The area had been stripped of equipment for more than three years because it was more than 20 years old and in poor condition.

During the dedication April 26, Principal Jesse Simpson applauded the efforts of many. He cited the work of the PTA, which undertook the fundraising about two years ago to give the elementary students an up-to-date play space. Slides, a balance beam, climbing wall, button steps, circular monkey bars and a zip line will help keep the children happily active at play.

“The community was so incredibly supportive,” said Chris Nolan, PTA president.

She said she was especially impressed at the turnout for a Harlem Wizards basketball game in January 2012. Those in all the schools in the North Hills School District were invited to watch an amateur team of community notables take on the professional entertainment basketball team. The money raised at this event went along with the dollars collected from bingo; restaurant nights; cookie-dough sales; and Funky Fridays, when children make a small donation to wear crazy clothes for a day.

Alumni from the former West View High School — the building houses the elementary school now — donated, she explained, as did children who gave their birthday money to the cause.

“This was such a group effort by everybody, by families and staff,” said Nolan, 45, of West View.

Both the equipment for the playground behind the school and the installation, totaling $27,549, were paid for by the PTA. The district contributed $20,800 for the site preparation. The school's Chalfonte Street play area will be updated later.

“This is not Mr. Simpson's playground,” Simpson said during the dedication, and he invited Kylie Freese, a kindergartner from West View, to cut the red ribbon on the gate.

The 6-year-old found the big blue scissors to be a little heavy, but she snipped the wide strip to the cheers of all.

“It was exciting,” said Kylie, surprised to be asked by the principal to take part in the ceremony.

The playground, said Simpson, 37, of North Huntingdon, “took vision, dedication, generosity and a community that believes in pulling together to help each other. “

And he thanked the students for making it happen and offered a lesson to them.

“Wishes don't magically happen. It takes hard work, determination and focus.”

The playground stood in testimony.

Fifth-grader Lexie Dunham, 10, of West View, is enthusiastic about the new equipment.

“It's really cool to have this zip line thing,” Lexie said.

Fourth-grader Nate Brackman agreed.

“It looks pretty awesome,” the 10-year-old from West View said.

Nate had watched other students on the zip line and was looking forward to trying it. He said he also enjoys moving across the button steps.

“The students earned it,” Simpson said. “They raised money to put the playground here. They'll leave behind a legacy for West View students to enjoy for years to come.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or




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