Pearson gets a little help from its friends

POULSBO — No baseball-playing ghosts have appeared out of a cornfield yet, but Pearson Elementary had its own field of dreams appear last weekend.

Or, to be more precise, a playground of dreams.

After years of enduring sagging and uninspiring playground equipment, the Pearson community — staff, teachers, students, neighbors and anyone else who could tote a shovel — descended on the oldest elementary school in the district to give its play area a bright new facelift.

After hours of labor and mountains of bark, the work is almost done and the playground will get its first test drive toward the end of the week.

“It’s outstanding. Overwhelming. Inspiring,” said Beth Johnson, the PTA member who coordinated the five-day project.

The project began with a grant from GameTime, a playground-equipment company, which allowed the school to purchase $27,000 worth of playground equipment for just $13,500. The school also got financial support from several companies and the North Kitsap School District.

Pearson was then faced with a small problem, or rather a large one: how to install several enormous pieces of playground equipment, which called for piles of bark, 75 deep-driven holes in the ground and heavy-duty equipment such as a power auger and dump trunk.

Enter North Kitsap.

Fred Hill Materials donated concrete. Advanced Rentals and Sales in Poulsbo brought the power auger. And plenty of hands, big and small, pitched in to help.

PTA President Jackie Lax got a taste of the community’s dedication when she arrived to help on Saturday and found that Pearson Elementary had suddenly become a tougher ticket than Wrestlemania.

“I drove in — I thought there’d be just a few families — and the parking lot was full,” Lax said.

About 75 holes were drilled Thursday. Two truckloads of wood chips were delivered on Friday. The holes were levelled off on Saturday and more than 60 people appeared to help assemble the equipment.

“There were parents and grandparents,” Johnson said. “One man showed up from the Navy. He didn’t even have any kids at the school.”

The playground’s beneficiaries also pitched in. Students from Pearson could be found hard at work as late as Saturday, when they delivered wheelbarrows of woodchips to the lower playground and smoothed them down with the backs of shovels.

“They get in there and do the hard work and shovel,” Johnson said. “They’ve done everything that we’ve asked them to.”

The pupils have even done the unthinkable: they have stayed off the tempting play equipment while the concrete dries and the posts settle into place.

An opening ceremony toward the end of the week is likely, as soon as the concrete dries.

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