Monday, December 2, 2013

Treasure Forest Elementary Spark Park

Spring Branch ISD students, teachers, and community and civic leaders gathered on Nov. 19 to celebrate the new Spark School Park at Treasure Forest Elementary School, 7635 Amelia Road. The school park was financed and built through a cooperative effort by Spring Branch ISD, the City of Houston, Harris County, the school PTA and community.

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Treasure Forest Elementary’s new on-site park includes a new playground with a slide and play equipment, in addition to a separate playground structure, campus walking trail, and two soccer fields. The new park is the 16th such community playground built in SBISD under the nonprofit Spark School Park program, also known as the SPARK Program.

“This is a really wonderful playground,” Principal Blanca Reyes said. “There are two separate playground structures for different age ranges of children. We’ve got a walking trail, two soccer fields, and areas where teachers can teach outside. This gives our students an opportunity to play and interact constructively, and to refresh them for learning in their classrooms.”

“This also means that our kids will have an improved place to go and play after hours. It’s going to do wonders for their health and fitness, and it’s going to provide safe areas for families to get together.

The community benefits so much in having a safe place to gather after school, and for the weekends,” she also said. Elementary students, parents and community raised more than $5,000 for the park in fundraising events ranging from a student fashion show to a Rodeo Night and community garage sale.

Other sources of park funds included: $5,000 from SBISD; $5,000, Frost Bank; and $87,500 in federal funds through the City of Houston’s Housing & Community Development Department. Building contractor for the project was All Play.

SBISD Board members who attended the Spark Park dedication included Board President Pam Goodson and four Trustees: Chris Gonzalez; Katherine Dawson; Wayne Schaper, Sr.; and Chris Vierra. Trustee Chris Gonzalez told Treasure Forest students to run, and play, and make special memories in the new park, but she also encouraged them to preserve it for future students.

“Play hard in this new park and take care of it. Remember how hard other people who are here today worked to make it possible,” she told students gathered outdoors.

In his remarks, Superintendent of Schools Duncan F.Klussmann, Ed.D., noted that former City of Houston Councilwoman Eleanor Tinsley, now deceased, took the same approach to building and improving school parks and undertaking other city beautification projects that she did as a champion of the city’s 1980 sign ordinance to regulate billboards.

“That was a gutsy effort, but she was successful in making it happen. We have all been fortunate to have had the Spark Park Program in Spring Branch,” the Superintendent said. Highlighting special guests was Kathleen Ownby, who is the executive director of the SPARK Program and Eleanor Tinsley’s daughter. She noted that more than a dozen parks are open now across SBISD, and another under construction.

Those helping make possible and dedicate the new school park included the following:

• Trees for Houston planted 11 new trees in the park
• Erica Lee with U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s Office presented a flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
• Ariana Campos with Texas Rep. Jessica Farrar’s Office presented a flag to the campus that flew over the Texas Capitol in Austin
• State Sen. John Whitmire’s Office presented a certificate of achievement to the school
• Landscape Architect Carmen Posey with Environments, the park designer
• Joyce Tyler Williams with Frost Bank
• Nancy Bailey with The Coca-Cola Co.
• Kris Drosche with SBISD’s Planning & Construction Department

The Navy Jr. ROTC Color Guard from the Guthrie Center presented the colors. Treasure Forest Elementary second-, third-, and fifth-graders performed two songs, “One Light, One Sun,” and “Thank You,” under the direction of school music teacher Darlene Williams.

Art teacher Cynthia Cisneros supervised the school’s outdoor art mural, which includes student-created and hand painted images on tiles. Student murals are a feature of the SPARK program. Students at the dedication received a copy of the SPARK coloring book.

The 2014 SPARK Art Calendar was also unveiled at the dedication.


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