Pivik Elementary students dream up designs for new playground
Zip lines, tire swings, mazes, trampolines, climbing walls and extra-tall slides were among suggestions made by Pivik Elementary students designing their new playground.
“I want a lot of fun things,” said incoming fourth-grader Reed Spenik, 9. “I want something that sprays you (with water).”
July 19 was design day for the “KaBOOM!” playground to be built at the now-K-4 school at 151 School Road. KaBOOM! is a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of children, particularly those growing up in poverty.
KaBOOM! Project Manager Derrick Dixon collected all design day participants’ ideas and plans to take them to Playworld, a commercial playground equipment manufacturer in Lewisburg.
Dixon said the designs will be evaluated and the top three will be returned to the community for review.
“I expect good input,” Dixon said. “People are really invested in making this playground happen. I think it’s going to be a great community effort. There are a lot of young kids out here, and I’m expecting they’ll have a lot of ideas.”
Pivik Principal Kristen Gestrich said a committee including parents and staff will approve the final design.
“I’m glad that they are excited about it, and I’m glad that they are dreaming about what their perfect playground might look like,” Gestrich said. “We’re going to hopefully be able to incorporate some of their ideas into the actual design of the playground.
“I can’t promise any of the crazy ideas they’re coming up with, but our goal is to build a playground that is inclusive and appropriate for all of our students regardless of what their limitations or needs may be so that everyone feels welcome to participate with the equipment that’s out there,” she added.
Reed and 27 other students made drawings and used Legos to build their dream playground as part of the event.
“It feels like my imagination gets let free and (I can) do whatever I want,” he said. “I do think we need a new (playground) with higher slides.”
Isabel Boccieri, 9, said she wants monkey bars because, “I like to swing while holding on to something.”
Isabel used building blocks with Teyah Christ, 8, to design their ideal play area. Both will be in fourth grade this coming school year. Teyah said she’d like a rock climbing wall.
Reagan Hill, 4, will be in kindergarten at Pivik in the 2019-20 school year. She said she wants a tire swing, sandbox and “a crazy slide, because they go fast.”
Gestrich said the new playground is necessary because of increased enrollment and to help students with special needs and sensory issues play outside with their peers. Plum will close Regency Park Elementary and change its remaining three elementary schools from K-6 to K-4 next school year. The change will boost Pivik’s student population from 600 to a projected 750.
Gestrich applied for a $90,000 Build it With KaBOOM! grant with the assistance of Habitat for Humanity’s Allegheny Valley affiliate. The organization assisted with the design day event.
“We had the opportunity to engage with the passionate hearts that reside here in the community, and really work collectively to see this vision come to fruition,” Habitat for Humanity Executive Director John Tamiggi said. “We’ll be directly involved in the planning (and) pre-site development.”
Duquesne Light signed on as the grant’s funding partner and committed 125 volunteers for the build. Jessica Rock, vice president of communications and corporate citizenship for the utility company, enjoyed seeing the kids’ creativity at design day.
“They’re the ones who are ultimately going to enjoy it,” she said. “This is a unique opportunity for them to put their mark on something that they’ll be able to enjoy for years to come.”
Duquesne Light donates about $2 million annually to community projects in Allegheny and Beaver counties. Pivik’s will be the eighth playground Duquesne Light has contributed to in as many years.
Families who could not be a part of design day can still participate in the project.
Build day is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 28. At least 200 volunteers will be needed.
Habitat for Humanity construction lead Scott Reider said site preparation will take place two to three days prior to the Sept. 28 build day and include excavation, leveling the land and creating holes for the playground equipment.
“Once it gets started, it’s a unique thing to watch,” he said. “All the prep will be done, people will come in and this thing will go up so fast, it will make your head spin. We’re assisting to make their job go smoothly.”
Borough Manager Michael Thomas said Plum public works crews will help with excavation so no one needs to lease any heavy equipment.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, email@example.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.