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Plum School District’s Pivik Elementary to get KaBOOM! playground upgrades |

Plum School District’s Pivik Elementary to get KaBOOM! playground upgrades

| Thursday, July 12, 2018 6:21 p.m.

Pivik Elementary School students should be having a blast on the playground this coming school year thanks to some grant-funded upgrades.

The school was approved for a Build it With KaBOOM! grant.

KaBOOM! is a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of children, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. They have built several playgrounds in Mon Valley communities since 2007.

Principal Kristen Gestrich applied for $90,000 with the assistance of Habitat for Humanity’s Allegheny Valley affiliate.

She announced the award at a school board workshop meeting July 10.

The funds will be used to build an addition to the school’s playground with ADA compliant equipment and other specialized amenities.

The goal is to make it more inclusive so special education students and those with physical or sensory issues can play outside with their peers.

A design day is set for July 19. About 25 students will be involved in process. Their input would be reviewed by a committee and a KaBOOM! project manager.

More than 200 volunteers will be needed to build the playground on Sept. 28.

“It’s going to be a nice opportunity for the community to come together,” said Gestrich. She noted clearances for the volunteers should not be an issue.

“They will not be inside the school and not be interacting with the students,” she said. “The students will possibly be coming out to see the progress, but that will be with teacher supervision and they will not be close enough to have interaction with volunteers.”

No district money is expected to be used toward the project.

Duquesne Light is the funding partner of the grant. The company also committed about 100 volunteers to help build.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our employees, DLC continues to make communities in which we live and work stronger through volunteerism,” Spokesman Gerald Lucci said via email Thursday. “DLC’s support has helped KaBOOM! promote and protect a child’s right to active play at home, at school and in the community.”

The utility company in previous years contributed to KaBOOM! playgrounds in North Versailles, Braddock Hills and McKeesport to name a few.

Pivik’s playground was built about six years ago and is still in good condition.

Gestrich said in June the school planned to add to the playground regardless so all students can play together, and because of increased enrollment due to redistricting.

Plum will close Regency Park Elementary and change its remaining three elementary schools from K-6 to K-4 next school year.

That boosts Pivik’s student population from 600 to a projected 750.

The school’s grant application was assisted by Habitat for Humanity’s Allegheny Valley affiliate.

Habitat affiliate Director John Tamiggi talked about his group’s involvement in June.

“We have spelled out a vision that works to engage all students and members of the community to an inclusive playground,” Tamiggi said. “We are utilizing the playground as a component for a universal language of play.”

It was unclear how many volunteers Habitat would provide for the building day.

More information on the project and how to volunteer will be posted on the district’s website in the coming weeks.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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