A group of parents at West Bloomfield Schools, sensing a need for facilities allowing children to exercise outdoors at Gretchko Elementary School, recently came together to raise funds for a new track, soccer field and basketball courts.
Principal Sally Drummond said that funds raised at a cocktail auction event this past Saturday, in combination with a FunD Run event held earlier this year raised about $50,000 for the projects to take over the undeveloped north field at the school on 5300 Greer Rd., just east of Hiller Rd.
"We can't just sit back and expect to see this happen just because there's a need for it," said Sara Ward, a community liasion of the Gretchko Parent Teacher Organization. "We did this back in 2006 to raise money for educational supplies. We can't do something like this every year, but we need to scratch each others' backs sometimes."
Depending on winter weather conditions, Ward said, the equipment is expected to be in place early next year.
"We needed to make better use of our school grounds. Until two years ago, we held our annual FunD Run at Scotch Elementary and that's when we really realized the need for this," Ward continued.
Gretchko has taken on a more active role in the health and education of its students in grades one and kindergarten, said Drummond, who opened the school in 1995 as principal.
"We've always had a health and fitness initiative at our school. From the beginning, we've stressed the importance of healthy snacks and understanding why it's important to pay attention to what you eat. The next step is to do more fitness," Drummond said.
Motor Moms and Dads, a group of parent volunteers, received funding through the Brooksie Way Minigrant program earlier this year to benefit plans for the school. Students participate in motor activities, including exercises on balance bars, balance boards, mini-trampolines and sit-n-spins in order to enhance skills that are crucial for brain development.
In addition to allowing the school a permanent home for its annual FunD Run and room to roam at recess, the volunteers will work to supervise children in programming outside of class, Drummond said. Physical education classes will also be enhanced, she added.
"The PTO board has been very enthusiastic and the teachers have worked hard to make this possible with local businesses in the area. Everything these people have worked to do will benefit our kids."