Sunday, August 27, 2000

Volunteers help give school grounds a make-over

Playgrounds cleaned, constructed

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        J'Rome A. Holmes didn't care that it was hot outside and that it was a Saturday.

        He arrived at Vine Elementary School at about 9 a.m. to volunteer for trash pickup on the school grounds as part of Cincinnati Public Schools' “Spruce Up, Set Up, Sign Up” program.

[photo] Ray Huber (left) and Gerald Knight, both of Sayler Park, set up a playground at Sayler Park Elementary School on Saturday.
(Mike Simons photo)
| ZOOM |
        “We want to see that the kids have a nice clean playground,” said Mr. Holmes, a plant operator for the school.

        By about 10:30 a.m., he had filled one trash barrel and was working on filling a second with candy wrappers, empty chip bags, weeds, glass and other litter from the school grounds.

        The event began at 9 a.m. and lasted until noon at all 75 district schools.

        Participants also were encouraged to register to vote. The district is seeking a 6-mill levy in November that would generate $35.8 million if passed.

        Just a handful of others showed up at Vine Elementary by 11 a.m. but Principal Greg Hook was not discouraged.

        “It's quality, not quantity,” he said.

        A factor in the low turnout could have been that this was the first year the spruce-up was held before the start of school, he said. Generally, the cleanup is held in the spring.

        Across town at Sayler Park Elementary School, about 25 volunteers toiled under the hot sun to set up new playground equipment behind the school.

        The event capped a year of fund raising for the $27,000 equipment by the Sayler Park Advisory Board, a cooperative effort of community groups.

        “It was mostly from the neighborhood in five and 10 dollar donations and pennies from the kids,” said Diane Glos, service area coordinator for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

        Principal Gary Vale said the playground project was his school's way of sprucing up the school.

        Holly Taylor, 21, came home from her studies at Miami University to participate in the event.

        She started there at 8:30 a.m. as she helped by holding support beams and catching anything that fell.

        “I grew up here,” said Ms. Taylor, who manages the pool next door for the recreation commission. “I figure I'll be here next summer and I figured I'd help out.”

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