Area schools use summer to address improvements

By ANTHONY WARREN,

While many kids on the Northside likely won’t be looking forward to returning to class, they’ll certainly benefit from improvements at their respective schools.

Projects range from putting in new playgrounds and building outdoor classrooms to correcting draining issues.

Christ Covenant School, for instance, completed a $300,000 playground renovation project, which included installing new “state-of-the-art” centerpiece structures, a refreshed basketball court, artificial turf, fencing and a covered porch area.

“This is not the playground that today’s adults grew up playing on,” said Head of School Cathy Haynie. “It is a modern playground with each piece having varying levels of accessibility and challenge.”

One structure includes what looks like the framing of a classic jungle gym, but instead of monkey bars, it has numerous ropes, ladders and other devices for climbing.

Students at Madison-Ridgeland Academy (MRA) also will enjoy a new playground. The new kindergarten playground is one of $2.5 million either completed or under way on the Old Canton Road campus.

Work is expected to wrap up in August, about a year after crews finished MRA’s elementary playground, MRA Director of Advancement Leslie Dixon said.

Also, to be completed this August, is the straightening of the road behind the MRA baseball field, a move that will create an additional 65 parking spaces there, as well as the school’s new “Elementary Enrichment Facility.”

The $600,000 project includes remodeling the old school cafeteria for use as a common space for enrichment activities, as well as an indoor recreation and assembly area for elementary students.

Projects are being funded with MRA’s “Our Family, Our Future” capital campaign.

Meanwhile, St. Richard Catholic School is in the beginning stages of building a new outdoor classroom. Crews began work recently.

Once completed, the space will be an area where teachers can take their charges to learn about plants and the environment and simply break away from the traditional classroom setting.

Other projects will be less visible, but equally important to student safety and comfort.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School invested $750,000 in project to improve drainage at its lower school campus.

Work included installing new underground piping to stave off flash flooding from heavy storms. It also includes rebuilding and redesigning courtyards so they can be better used for outdoor instructional space.

Construction got under way in early June and was expected to wrap up by August 1.

“We’ve had some drainage issues with the amount of rain we’ve had this year,” St. Andrew’s Associate Head of School and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Lewis previously told the Sun.

Lewis said water would build up in the courtyards and get into school buildings on the campus following heavy storms. The piping would allow rainwater to be removed quickly from problem areas, Lewis explained.

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