SILOAM — Copeland Elementary School’s emphasis on inspiring children to keep fit for the rest of their lives is being expressed in a tangible way with a perfect storm of support driving improvements to the school and playground and courtyard.
Principal Sharia Templeton explained the outdated and deteriorating equipment isn’t able to provide fitness structure and safer activities.
Templeton said the school offers universal free breakfast as well as being a Fuel to Play 60 grant recipient which requires students to participate in physical fitness activities for 60 minutes every school day. She said students begin their day with thirty minutes of activity with the remaining 30 minutes of activities provided in addition to instructional time.
“Being physically active is a school goal to us. It is a lifelong commitment for our kids,” said Templeton. “It is important to take care of your body so you can accomplish your goals.” She said the school connects eating right with normal activities such as jumping rope and participating in family outings as another way of being active.
Templeton said the Copeland PTO, school staff and students started the year setting improving the playground as a goal for the organization’s fund raising. Next physical education teacher Ron Hill and the Charlotte firm of Cunningham Recreation came up with the design for the rebuilt playground. The plans were presented to students, parents and the PTO and met with their approval.
Additional support also came from third grade teacher Stacy Jessup who is the co-chairman of the Healthy Active Kids Committee. Templeton praised the efforts of county school maintenance staffers on improvement projects.
“This was a chance for everyone involved to see what the kids would get and where the money was going,” said Templeton. The school’s Healthy Active Kids Committee and Student Council (SCA) lent their support to the drive. The SCA’s Change for Change drive asking students to put loose change in buckets throughout the school is still going on. Additional educational funds were earned through a Box Tops for Education project as well. Templeton said a total of $10,000 has been raised this year and will fund what Templeton calls the centerpiece of the playground. She said this will be installed during the summer.
She said the school is interested in additional sponsorships to help with purchasing three other pieces of equipment which could include a net climb, a climbing wall and a “worm hole” tunnel.
“This is a big thing for us. It really took off. The kids are excited and even the fifth graders who will go to Central Middle have been leaders. It’s amazing to watch them lead the younger kids,” said Templeton. “This is a 21st century skill. Keep your body healthy and fit so you can do the things you want to do. It fits seamlessly. It’s been a community effort. We are in a rural area and we are a community school. What’s happening here also improves the community.”
Templeton said Surry County Schools Educational Foundation Liaison Melissa White helped write a successful grant for $5,000 from the Lowe’s Hardware Toolbox for Education program which will go to another planned improvement to the school. She said plans are under way to improve the interior courtyard of the school which houses the 1924 Copeland School Bell in a tower.
Improvements to this area could include adding tables and benches, a walking track, gardens including a butterfly garden and landscaping. Another improvement project being considered to follow this project would be to build a memory walkway with pavers around the restored bell tower for alumni to highlight the community’s history with the PTO, parents and others donating labor.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.