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P.S. 36 dedicates new playground

Before the school year was finished at P.S. 36, the school’s community dedicated a new playground for students and the surrounding Castle Hill community to use and enjoy.

Construction was recently completed on a playground next to the school that includes a running track, basketball courts, play equipment and benches. It was built as part of an initiative by Mayor Bloomberg to have more community playgrounds on the grounds of schools for use by young people during school hours and when classes aren’t in session.

Students performed multicultural dances in a recent celebration of the new playground, which replaces a barren asphalt schoolyard. The playground has been five years in the making, and both current principal Elvira Maresca and former principal Nilda Rivera worked with the city on the project.

“This new playground is great because the kids can come outside and exercise, all the while forming good habits,” Maresca said. “We have to promote healthy habits at an early age, and too often, that doesn’t always happen.”

The playground is a step in the right direction, and the children will be able to take part in basketball tournaments, sit outside and read on the new benches in the morning before school, and get a drink at the outdoor water fountain without having to go inside, she said.

“Hopefully, the improvements will make the playground a more communal place,” Maresca stated.

Rivera sat in on the initial meetings where she said that representatives from the Mayor’s office and DOE asked her as principal what the school could use in terms of a new play area.

“In order to better serve the schools and communities, it was decided that the best thing to do would be to refurbish all of the playgrounds, like P.S. 36’s, that may not have been in the best of shape,” Rivera said.

During the ceremony, members of the P.S. 36 Student Council read testimonials about what the new playground means to the students, with many choosing to highlight not only the new track, but the water fountain which makes for uninterrupted play during recess and other free periods. Previously, students needing a water break had to go back inside the school.

African and Indian dances celebrating the opening of the playground were followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. A cake decorated as a playground was then served to students in the school’s Robin Hood library.

In attendance was community superintendent Timothy Behr. Assistant principals Fran Boemio and Rachelynn Milby were thanked during the ceremony.

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