THE CONSTRUCTION knowledge of four Little School dads provided valuable guidance to the PTO when it came time to build the school’s new playground. They were presented with awards of appreciation from the School Committee. From left: School Committee Chairman Mel Webster, volunteer Virgilio Bancarotta, Principal Christine Molle, volunteers Chuck Mulik and Tim Brewster, School Committee member Scott Buckley. Missing from photo was Scott Curtice. (Michael Geoffrion Scannell Photo)

Published in the November 16, 2017 edition


NORTH READING — Topping the agenda at Monday night’s School Committee meeting was the presentation of “Awards of Appreciation” to eight individuals in the Little School community who were instrumental in the fundraising and building of the Little School playground.

Christine Molle, principal at the Little School for the past eight years, approached the PTO in September of 2015 and asked that they tackle getting a new playground. Then, as now, the PTO was made up of all women.

A committee was formed. Elena DeAngelis was the chair and worked closely with Little School PTO Chair of Fundraising Kate Schulz. They began with $31,000 of previously raised funds.

“We hosted several fun events over the two school years – movie day, family bingo, town-wide yard sales, a Little Laps Walkathon and a comedy night,” DeAngelis said.

In the end the moms raised over $100,000.

Four dads in the construction field stepped up during the planning phase. When it was time for construction they brought in the heavy equipment. They also provided valuable guidance to the many volunteers who helped on the weekend of the build at the end of April.

Organizers met with various playground vendors, researched designs and interviewed staff and children. Molle said, “We wanted to give all children consideration, that is why we included ADA-compliant play structures.”

LITTLE SCHOOL PTO volunteers were recognized by Principal Christine Molle and the School Committee Monday night for their nearly two-year effort to build a brand new playground at the school. From left: Principal Molle, School Committee Chairman Mel Webster, Playground Committee members Jennifer Vant, Linda Emery and Elena DeAngelis, PTO Fundraising Committee Chair Kate Schulz and School Committee member Scott Buckley. (Michael Geoffrion Scannell Photo)

The group had originally planned to build the playground in the summer of 2017 but were able to get it done in the spring with the idea that the fifth graders would then be able to enjoy it too.

There had been a smaller playground at the school dedicated to a neighborhood child killed in 1996.

“We re-dedicated it to Brianna Benenati, who died at the age of three. Her father visited from the West Coast in the spring and was thrilled to see the new design,” she said. Benenati’s grandmother and other family members came to the rededication.

DeAngelis concluded, “What made the project easier was the widespread support from parents, staff, alumni, neighbors and businesses in town. One neighborhood even donated proceeds from their lemonade stand.”

The awards presented by the School Committee thanked the eight for their “commitment and dedication to the Little School Playground Project.”

In addition to DeAngelis and Schulz, Playground Committee members Jennifer Vant and Linda Emery were recognized by the committee Monday night along with playground construction crew members Virgilio Bancarotta, Chuck Malik and Tim Brewster. One of the recipients, Scott Curtice, was unable to attend.