A new playground complete with a colorful climbing apparatus officially debuted at Winston Park K-8 Center in front of hundreds of students, parents, teachers and administrators during an opening ceremony on Apr. 20.
“It’s rare to see a new playground open as a ribbon-cutting event,” said principal Carlos Diaz, who emceed the event. “But it isn’t every school that has a parent-teacher organization that goes out and raises $30,000 to make it happen.” Four years ago, surface tiles on the former area began coming up under heavy wear and tear, explained Maria Moscoso, PTSA vice president for fundraising.
“Kids played with balls, hula hoops, chalk and jump ropes in the area of the old playground that became barren dirt from overuse,” Moscoso said. “It became a muddy mess, making it unsafe with kids tripping over themselves, as the surface tiles broke loose. It had to be closed in 2006.”
That led a loyal group of PTSA parents to “see what we could do ourselves to get a new play area for the kids.” Three years later, the PTSA met with school district officials pledging to pay to open a restored playground and embarking the group on sales of bright red “Wildcat” T-shirts, books and other projects to raise funds for a new playground.
“We actually became part of the design and vendor process and with the $30,000 we raised, school officials were so impressed they kicked in another $16,000 to resurface the old playground and provide landscaping,” Moscoso said.
Joining her were four key PTSA officers, honored for their part in the project, including Maria Diaz, president; Mayra Diaz, treasurer; Diana Hernandez, secretary (a WP-K8 teacher), and Elena Nieves, vice president of events.
Before the ribbon cutting, Miami-Dade School Board District 7 member Ana Rivas Logan recalled walking “my daughter to school here when I lived in an apartment just a few blocks away. So as a parent and a working teacher, this is very special moment for me, and this PTSA shows how working together can make special things happen.
“And I promise you, you will soon get your new cafetorium, too.” Janet Hupp, Region 4 superintendent, representing schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho, said, “By playing and working together, our children learn the cooperative spirit that can bring about a successful projects like this.”
In appreciation, a delegation of elementary pupils displayed a hand-written scroll, dedicating the playground to a deceased kindergarten teacher who spent extra hours daily as before and after-school manager. The wording to honor his memory reads: “A good teacher explains, a superior teacher demonstrates, a great teacher inspires. Dedicated to a teacher who inspired us all: Willie Felder.” The scroll will become a permanent fixture at Winston-Park K-8, just around the corner from its new playground.