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Tolland Elementary PTO to Build New Playscape for TIS

The new playscape will be built in two phases on the school's baseball field.

Recess is getting a makeover at Tolland Intermediate School.

The Tolland Elementary PTO is ensuring that TIS students will be getting more out of their recess time with a new playscape, to be built in two phases.

According to TEPTO president Karen Moran, a need arose for playground equipment because the present intermediate school was originally built as a middle school and does not have a traditional playscape area for elementary-aged children. She added that the Parker School recreation area is both a walk for today's TIS students and out of date.

"The Parker School playscape that exists has not been maintained," Moran said. 

Moran said that Tolland Intermediate School students currently either walk to the playground at Parker Memorial or play with jump ropes and activities brought outside for recess.

Fellow TEPTO member and head of the playscape committee, Sheila Leach, said that although recess is techically play, it is an essential part of the elementary school experience.

"It's fundamental to their learning, " Leach said. "They learn better and perform better as students. It's critical."

The TEPTO has designed the new playscape to include the best parts of the Parker Memorial equipment in the design.

According to Moran, Phase I of the construction will include the installation of portions of the Parker Memorial playscape, a swing set, which will contain two ADA-accessible seats, and a duo rock climbing wall, all of which will be placed in the baseball field on the school's property.

The first portion of the new playscape is very close to becoming a reality. Moran said that the dugouts have already been removed from the field and that the TEPTO will host a mulching day, and celebratory and fundraising pasta dinner on October 29, which should complete Phase I.

Moran, who is working with Mark Gallagher, a Tolland native and Tolland High School graduate and now currently employed with the New England Recreation Group, said that TEPTO is still in the planning stages for Phase II.

Gallagher said that the second phase of the playscape will likely be a large, modular structure that promotes fun and exercise for students.

"We're looking to maximize the opportunity use, to challenge the kids and provide more than just the playground use," Gallagher said. "It'll provide physical fitness, risk reward, different levels of challenges and a variety of equipment to make it not only fun but beneficial physically and socially."

Moran said that construction will most likely begin for Phase II by 2012 at the earliest.

Until then, there is plenty of work to be done. Moran estimates that the entire project will cost $100,000 to complete, although that is still an estimate. TEPTO will be holding fundraisers, but Moran asks that interested residents donate their time as well to make the project a reality.

The earliest chance to help is coming up on Saturday, October 29 during the designated mulching day for Phase I. Volunteers will be needed to help under the new playscape, starting at 9 a.m.

There will be a at 5 p.m. later that day at TIS with food provided by the Manchester Olive Garden. The proceeds will benefit Phase II of the project. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12.

If you're interested in volunteering for any part of the project, contact Karen Moran at 4morans@gmail.com or 860-870-1111.

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