‘Peaceful playground’ at Jacks Valley Elementary | RecordCourier.com

‘Peaceful playground’ at Jacks Valley Elementary

by Scott Neuffer

On Oct. 25, students of Jacks Valley Elementary School participated in Peaceful Playground Day, familiarizing themselves with the school’s new playground equipment.

Fifth-grader Kris Schutten walked the concentric paths of the labyrinth, a red and black brick spiral built flatly into the ground, used to help students relax and focus. With each circle walked, Kris got closer to the center.

Principal Pam Gilmartin said the exercise helps students find their mental center, as they find the physical center of the labyrinth.

“It helps them reflect,” she said. “I want my students to have the best possible playground for play, exercise and learning.”

Big George Ventures, which is developing a subdivision in north county, funded the new playground, donating $173,000 for the project. Besides the labyrinth, the school received a new running track, a giant outdoor chessboard where students physically move around huge chess pieces to play and new foursquare courts. The benefactors also donated to a one-acre park southeast of the school.

Gilmartin said the Bruce Peterson Park, named after one of the school’s custodians who passed away, will officially open this month, featuring an outdoor classroom, a historical walk and archeological dig site.

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When asked what students were enjoying most, Gilmartin said the outdoor chess board. But she also said the new foursquare courts have been a big hit, as physical education teachers have taught the students nearly a dozen different games they can play on the courts, involving bean bags, balls and jacks.

“My staff has told me there has been a significant cut in playground issues since receiving the new equipment,” Gilmartin said.

“When students have more to do, they stay out of trouble.”