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P.S. 83 unveils new playground

P.S. 83 officially unveiled their new playground to students, faculty, and local residents. Photo by Bill Weisbrod
Bronx Times

P.S. 83 began its first academic year in decades without long-time principal Benjamin Saccodato in September, but the kindergarten through 8th grade school will have something to remember him by for a long time — a revamped playground.

Saccodato and second grade teacher Laurie Borrero applied to Councilman Jimmy Vacca for a grant to upgrade the playground last year. Vacca approved it, and on Tuesday, October 18, cut the ribbon on the completed play space.

“It worked out,” Borrero said. “We have a jungle gym for the younger kids, games for the older kids.” Before the upgrade, the yard was no more than an empty concrete surface.

Vacca provided $200,000 for the upgrade. An additional $25,000 was chipped in by the nonprofit New York Building Congress. The renovation was overseen by anther nonprofit, Out2Play, which manages playground construction in about 40 public elementary schools throughout the city each year.

“When New York City does a school yard, it takes four or five years,” Councilman Vacca told P.S. 83 students at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “But when Mr. Vacca went to Ms. Andrea Jenner (of Out2Play), it took just one year.”

Jenner assisted with the grant-writing, fundraising and got input from teachers and students about playground design.

“We help orchestrate the whole thing,” she said.

In addition the jungle gym, the playground now features a map of New York City painted on the ground, a track for running sprints, a basketball hoop, a hop scotch court and much more.

Third grader Lisa Amir attended the ribbon cutting. She had already been making use of the playground during recess.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I like the basketball court, I like the games a lot, so I like the hopscotch.”

The renovated playground gets plenty of use during recess, but with so many activities it is now a valuable tool for occupational therapists who work with students after school.

Zoja Rugova’s child attends P.S. 83. She said the improved playground enhances the entire school experience for students.

“As a parent I can say it’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to let off steam,” she said. “Because school just keeps getting harder and harder.”

Current principal Claudia Macek concurred, saying that the difference between the previous and current playgrounds was night and day.

“The kids absolutely love it,” Macek said. “It’s organized for play. It’s made a difference in out lunchtime activities. We used to try bringing out jump ropes, but that doesn’t work as well.”

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