No job too big for can-do kids

DALLAS -- Gradual changes are taking place at Oakdale Heights Elementary.

DALLAS -- Gradual changes are taking place at Oakdale Heights Elementary. The students, staff and parents are raising money for playground improvements that will happen in three stages during as many years.

"Playground equipment and related costs are quite expensive. We wanted to set smaller goals or phases so students could see some progress in their efforts and have goals to work toward," Principal Vickie Boer said.

The first stage saw a rock climbing wall installed earlier this school year, and it's a hit with students. The total cost was about $10,000, about $6,000 of which was raised by last year's jog-a-thon. The rest came from a variety of smaller fund-raisers like dinner nights at Ugo's Pizza and Burger King, and a spring bulb sale.

Other elements of the first phase will include a lower basketball hoop for the younger students and a walking track around the school's field.

When the first stage of work is complete sometime within the next year, fund-raising will begin for phases two and three.

Phase two will be a climbing play web, a sort of domed jungle gym with intersecting climbing ropes laced through its center. it resembles a giant molecule in 3D.

The students plan to raise about $17,000 to buy and install it.

Phase three is a more modest goal: a new slide and possibly a bridge between play structures. Overall the total cost of the playground projects when they are finished in 2009 will be between $30,000 and $40,000.

"Students and parents have been wanting to do playground improvements for some time," Boer said.

"Our last large fund-raising project was the new computer lab at our school. Now that we have completed that project, we are ready to take on the playground."

Boer said the generosity of the Dallas community has been a vital constant in all the school's projects.

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