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HOTL plans BINGO, raffle fundraisers

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Heart of the Lakes Elementary School is taking a different approach to its fundraising efforts this year.

Rather than holding its usual spring carnival, the school’s events committee decided to shake things up a little, and have planned a couple of new events.

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These events will still serve as fundraisers for the school, as the carnival was. Proceeds will go toward new playground equipment.

Heart of the Lakes Elementary Principal Jen Hendrickson said the playground was built when the school was, more than 20 years ago, and is overdue for an update.

“I think the overall large structure has met its life expectancy,” said Hendrickson. “It’s just seen its share of wear and tear.”

She added that representatives from Lakes Country Service Cooperative have strongly recommended replacing the school’s current playground equipment by the beginning of next school year.

More than $30,000 has already been raised and saved for the future playground thanks to past carnivals, said Hendrickson, but the current estimate for a new playground is somewhere around $100,000.

“We are looking at some new, really cool and innovative playground pieces,” said Hendrickson, such as running tracks that spin, climbing nets and rocking monkey bars.

A bidding process has begun in order to determine exactly what the final price tag will be.

Fundraising for the equipment is essential, as the school district has not budgeted or set aside money for the playground, said Hendrickson.

To help raise money for the cause, students are selling $1 raffle tickets. They will be sold until the morning of Monday, Feb. 10, and winners will be drawn at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. Various prizes were donated by restaurants and hotels from around the area.

Parents and community members are welcome to attend the drawing, which will be held in the elementary school gymnasium. Winners do not need to be present .

The other new fundraising event will be a BINGO night on Thursday, Feb. 13. The fun will begin at 5 p.m. in the school gym, when BINGO cards and daubers go on sale. Cards will cost 50 cents and daubers, $1.50.

In the past, said Hendrickson, all profits from these community events would be distributed back to the teachers to help pay for extra classroom supplies. This year, it will all be put toward playground expenses.

In addition to simply being out-of-date, the current playground equipment is not handicap accessible, and the pea rock surrounding the playground is difficult for wheelchair users to move around on.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the new structure will need to be “readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.”

This accessibility requirement, along with concerns for student safety, is why a type of rubber mulch will most likely replace the pea rock.

Ultimately, Hendrickson said, the playground project comes down to one factor: the kids who will be using it.

“We want the kids to have ownership and input on the pieces they want to have,” said Hendrickson, adding that, that way, they will continue to enjoy the facility for years to come.

“We want the community to be involved and share ideas,” she said of the plan to expand community input for the process. “I think there are some innovative things we can do to showcase our town and our school and show people what great things we have going. We want to make it an attractive piece for our community, as well as functional for our students.”

For more information about raffle tickets, BINGO or the playground, call Heart of the Lakes Elementary School at 346-5437.

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