Newton, Iowa’s Thomas Jefferson Grade School faced a big back-to-school dilemma. The school had just undergone a reorganization that tripled the number of young, lower grade students. Because of that, Jefferson was badly in need of a new playground, but the question was where to get the money to fund it.
In the past, the Jefferson PTA had taken the lead in efforts of this type and they again stepped up to the plate, organizing a joint fundraising effort in partnership with the teachers, the students and the school district. With $25,000 being the fundraising goal, the effort kicked off with a highly publicized commemorative brick sale.
The commemorative bricks were engraved with the name of the donors, offering community contributors a chance for school immortality. The bricks sold for $75 each, with the idea that they would eventually be integrated into the project. After a successful brick sale combined with a "Pennies for the Playground" fundraiser, two fun runs and assistance from TJ teachers who donated funds from the annual school carnival, the bulk of the $25,000 goal had been reached, so the playground equipment was put on order. The school district added the finishing touches by tiling the playground area and prepping the areas where the equipment was to be installed.
Now the question was where to put the commemorative bricks. It was felt that if they were placed in the playground soil, ground shift might occur. The PTA came up with a better solution – use the bricks to build playground benches. This solution proved to be a win-win for Jefferson by adding an additional playground component while providing a lasting memorial for the donors.
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