NAPA VALLEY REGISTER
The youngest students at McPherson Elementary School have something to look forward to from now on — a playground of their own.
On Saturday, more than 40 volunteers, including teens, parents, contractors and teachers, completed the construction of the playground, which they call “Dos Mundos,” near the preschool.
“We care about the little ones,” said Liliana Galvan, 16, a Napa High School junior, who remembers there was no playground when she was a pre-schooler at the Yajome Street campus a dozen years ago.
Galvan worked on the project for two and a half months with several classmates from her Leadership Academy Youth Leaders in Action class. Some 60 high school students participate in the program.
Leslie Medine, executive director of On the Move, which oversees the AYALA program, said the teens chose the project when they discovered the school didn’t have a playground for preschoolers.
Diego Gomez, 16, another AYALA student, said he and his classmates want to make a difference.
The AYALA students drafted plans for the playground with the help of Steve Carlson, a volunteer contractor, and had the proposal approved by the Napa Valley Unified School District. They recruited parents and other volunteers and organized three work parties to build to install the playground from equipment donated by a preschool in Alameda.
One student invited landscape contractor Francisco Navarro to help build the concrete curb around the playground and assemble the equipment.
Sandy Sanchez, 17, designed the plans that Galvan drew to scale on paper.
John Shafer, whose Shafer Vineyards has adopted the school through the Napa Valley Vintners adopt-a-school program, contributed $10,000 for the school, including money for the playground.
“We saw it as an opportunity to help,” said Shafer, as contractor Malin Ensign and his foreman Lorenzo Vera spread a truckload of wood chips into a 12-inch layer in the playground area.
McPherson Principal Tamara Sanguinetti said the school’s kindergarten playground is not age appropriate and is too dangerous for pre-schoolers. “We’ve had two broken arms (there),” she said.
Under state rules, preschoolers cannot be on the playground at the same time as older kids, said pre-school teacher Rita Ortega. Ortega spent part of her Saturday washing students’ hands after they had plunged their fingers into buckets of blue and green paint to decorate two picnic tables.
Her students really needed a playground, Ortega said. “We1ll be able to do more activities outside,” she said.
Gloria Galvan, who volunteered Saturday to paint planters for the future garden, said her 5-year-old daughter, Nancy, loves the slides.
Erin Sawyer, a third-grade teacher at McPherson and the mother of a 4-year-old preschooler, Ben, and Laura Roldan, the mother of another preschooler, Mateo, 4, said their children could not wait to inaugurate their new playground.
Sawyer said Ben has been counting the days, and the day has now come.