During the renovation of Don Cecilio Martinez Elementary School, kids were left without a playground, having to use the gym for recess.
But Principal Martha Johnsen last week announced a new playground area was open.
“We’ve been without a playground since December of last year when they separated us and filtered us into other schools. Even the remaining students couldn’t go outside, but I’ll tell you what, it was worth waiting for,” Johnsen said.
Physical education teacher Michael Nava agreed.
“This is a gorgeous playground, and the kids are loving it. The rubber chips are a lot safer than the wood chips, and a lot softer.”
Johnsen said there has been a lot of anticipation from everyone, including students, staff and parents.
“I had a student actually announce it on the radio, and then we announced it on our intercom,” Johnsen said.
The play area includes a Jungle Gym with a variety of swings, slides, ladders, and climbing and crawl spaces. There is a new basketball court and a large area filled with a shredded rubbery ground-cover for running and jumping.
“It’s really cushy, it’s wonderful and top-of-the-line protection for kiddos,” Johnsen said.
Fifth-grader Martin Zamora didn’t have too long to talk, between chasing and being chased by classmates.
“I like it very well. I really like the thing that spins around when you get on it,” he said.
At first, a new playground wasn’t part of the renovation project at the school, but the state Public School Facilities Authority found a way it could help with the cost.
Superintendent Jim Abreu said the agency came up with 75 percent and the district paid the remaining 25 percent for the new playground.