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Fundraising continues for $300,000 Ryan Gray playground renovation

Fundraising is still in progress to replace the handicap-accessible playground at Hillcrest Elementary School, 1045 Hilltop Drive. New specially designed equipment will make almost the entire playground accessible and include various wheelchair transfer sites.

The bid for the project is about $247,000. In January, the Lawrence school board approved up to $300,000 for renovation of the playground, called the Ryan Gray Playground for All Children. The additional funds cover a 5 percent contingency to address unknown issues that could arise during construction. As part of the agreement, the school district will match up to $150,000 raised by the playground’s steering committee.

A rendering of the new Ryan Gray Playground for All Children at Hillcrest Elementary School, 1045 Hilltop Drive.

A rendering of the new Ryan Gray Playground for All Children at Hillcrest Elementary School, 1045 Hilltop Drive.

So far, the committee has raised $78,500 and hopes to increase that figure to at least $130,000 in coming weeks, said committee co-chair Janel Leitch. Along with other efforts, the committee is selling $50 and $100 bricks through May that donors can engrave with their name or other message. Donations can be made online.

The current accessible playground is more than 20 years old and the ground surface, surrounding landscaping and most of the specialized playground equipment will be replaced as part of the renovation. The playground was built in 1993 in honor of Ryan Gray, a former Hillcrest student who had disabilities and who died in 1990.

The playground currently features slides and swings that can be used by children in wheelchairs, but Leitch said the new playground will have even more ways for children in wheelchairs to play with other children. The playground is open to the public while school is not in session, and Leitch said a playgroup of children with disabilities regularly uses it.

Construction of the playground is planned for this summer.


In other news and notes:

  • Fourth-graders at Broken Arrow Elementary will take a fieldtrip to the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka.

  • First-graders at Hillcrest Elementary will take a fieldtrip to Shawnee Mission Town.

  • Second-graders at New York Elementary will take a fieldtrip to Kaleidoscope in Kansas City, Mo.

  • The second of three days for the Sunflower Elementary book fair will be Thursday.

  • Kindergartners and first-graders at Woodlawn Elementary will perform their music program at 6:30 p.m.

  • Sixth- and seventh-graders at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School will perform their band concert at 7 p.m.

  • Sixth-graders at South Middle School will take a fieldtrip to the Baker Wetlands.

  • The first of three days for the Free State High School Black Box Theater Festival will begin at 7:30 p.m.


Lunch menu options:

Elementary school level Main dish: pasta with or without meatballs; parfait with muffin; peanut butter and jelly with string cheese; chef salad with breadstick

Sides: roasted broccoli, apples, salad bar, milk

Middle school level Main dish: pasta with or without meatballs; parfait with muffin; peanut butter and jelly with string cheese; chef salad with breadstick; hamburger; spicy chicken sandwich

Sides: roasted broccoli, salad bar, apples, fruit juice, fresh fruit, milk

High school level

Main dish: pasta with or without meatballs; spicy spaghetti, cereal with string cheese; parfait with muffin; deli bar; veggie shaker; peanut butter and jelly with string cheese; daily sandwiches; pizza

Sides: roasted broccoli, marinated mushroom salad, pears, fruit sorbet, fruit juice, oven potatoes, salad bar, fresh fruit, milk

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