L'ANSE - Students in an eighth-grade publications class at L'Anse Area Schools have acquired $35,000 in funding to install new playground equipment at the L'Anse Waterfront Park, an effort that started as a simple class project.
Teacher Amanda Rinkinen presented the project to the school board during the board's regular meeting Monday, and the class expects to purchase new jungle gym equipment soon, after comparing several design options the class came up with.
"When the kids have an idea and they want to run with it, by all means if it's something that can benefit our community as a whole, I'm very, very proud of them for all the work they've done on this," Rinkinen said.
Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
The L’Anse Waterfront Park will be getting new playground equipment soon thanks to a class project by eighth-grade students at L’Anse Area Schools and $35,000 funding they acquired.
The class attended two L'Anse Downtown Development Authority meetings and the DDA has set aside $30,000 for the project. They also presented before the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council, and secured $5,000 as part of the tribe's 2 percent funds.
"The kids did say that they're willing to work beyond the school year to make sure this is a full success," Rinkinen said. "As of now, there's a small possibility this could be ready by the (Baraga County) Lake Trout Festival."
She said it's a "very small chance" of it being ready by the festival, but once a design is decided and wood chips can be secured - options were discussed for both at the meeting - the order can be made.
Several members of the school board suggested the less expensive of two options, but more because of the way it better used space than due to cost savings.
"One of the things that comes to my mind is on the second (design). We know that some kids have space issues," board member Eva Marie Hatfield said. "If I was a parent or if I was taking my class down there, I certainly would choose to have more space because most of the things kids fight about are space or materials."
The current jungle gym at the waterfront park is more than 25 years old, so the class brainstormed the idea of taking it on as a project.
"It wasn't really a planned (project), but one thing that the kids brought up is that our area is in one of the most beautiful places in the world, but we really don't make the most of our location," Rinkinen said. "BHK preschool can't send their kids to play anymore. There's a lot of safety concerns, not to mention the fact that it's not that pretty anymore."
The new equipment would just replace the jungle gym since the swings, merry-go-round, dome and other equipment are in good condition.
The exact timeline is still being determined for installation of the new equipment.
During Monday's meeting, the school board also heard three other presentations:
School counselor Risa Willamson presented a new proposal to address discipline issues in the elementary school.
"With some of the aggressive behavior going on in the elementary school ... we decided to go with a zero-tolerance for aggressive behavior," Williamson said.
She based the proposed SULLY (Safe, Use respect, Learn, Listen, You are responsible) behavior rubric on her anti-bullying and Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations training.
The board and administrators expressed positive feedback for the proposal, which will take effect in the fall.
Language teacher Holly Belanger and Spanish student Amanda Dufek presented about their experiences at Concordia Language Village, where six students were fully immersed in a foreign-language environment (four in French, two in Spanish).
"The whole purpose of Concordia was to gain proficiency in global awareness," Belanger said.
The board presented George Cram with a plaque honoring him for his 22 years serving as golf coach for the Purple Hornets, a tenure that ended last year. He and his wife Jan were on hand at the meeting to receive the plaque and a standing ovation from the board.
"I had a great bunch of kids throughout the years. ... We had a lot of good times," Cram said. "We played some good golf, we played some bad golf ... but it's been enjoyable and I really appreciate your support during my 22 years."