Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Two Spark Parks Open

Two Spring Branch ISD elementary campuses dedicated new SPARK Parks earlier this month and, in separate celebrations, showed how focused and dedicated parent and community groups can set a goal and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Spark Park dedication at Nottingham Elementary.  Photo provided by Maria Thurow.
Students, parents and community partners at Nottingham Elementary celebrated the fruits of a 2½-year fundraising campaign on Saturday, Nov. 14, as a custom-designed SPARK Park was opened on the grounds at 570 Nottingham Oaks Trail. A school carnival was also held there on the first sunny Saturday in many weeks.

A separate SPARK Park dedication was held Thursday, Nov. 19, at Valley Oaks Elementary School, located at 8390 Westview. PTA groups at both Spring Branch ISD elementaries have raised more than $300,000 each for park improvements and special features.

Nottingham Reaches Its Goal
At Nottingham, more than $300,000 was raised by both area businesses and school partners to make over a tired looking area of the school grounds into the revitalized community park and public space it is today.

Among other improvements, Nottingham’s new outdoor spaces include a track and playing field, a prekindergarten playground, and special entry area. Trees for Houston planted 47 new trees at the site.

“I want to celebrate all the hard work we have done to get to this point,” Principal Roy Moore said at the park’s dedication, which was hosted by 104.1 KRBE radio personality Kevin Quinn. “Today is about celebrating community.”

Among those helping Principal Moore and SPARK’s Executive Director Kathleen Ownby dedicate the park were several SBISD Trustees and Houston City Council Members Oliver Pennington and Jack Christie. U.S. Congressman John Culberson sent a United States flag that had flown over the nation’s Capitol.

Nottingham PTA Past President Maria Schick wrote the initial letter of interest to the SPARK organization in early 2013. PTA members started with a “simple” list of community improvements that reached more than $300,000.

“We made jokes that it might be easier to launch the Space Shuttle than raise that much money in our small community. So, yes, we thought we were embarking on an impossible mission, but we were up for the challenge,” Schick told supporters.

“I recently saw this quote, ‘Someone once told me not to bite off more than I could chew. I said that I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity.’ That pretty much sums up our thinking as we approached this project. We knew that we were going to be up to something great!”

In the end, more than 200 families, groups and businesses donated to Nottingham’s project, raising an estimated $302,000. Donors included 35 businesses, more than 150 families. 28 other groups and neighborhood associations. Several school-wide fundraisers supported the project.

SPARK Committee co-chairs were Jennifer VanderSchoor and Leslie Schoenfield. Gina Keith was fundraising chair.

“The volunteer efforts to make this happen were just shy of mobilizing an army of people from those that were block captains, to organizing college alumni bricks, to asking your dentist or insurance agent to support our vision,” Schick added. “It has been truly amazing to see what can be accomplished through a shared goal and our collective efforts.”

Spark Park News Release for Nottingham Elementary >>

Valley Oaks Featured in SPARK Calendar

Spark Park dedication at Valley Oaks Elementary
The Valley Oaks Elementary park dedication was celebrated Nov. 19, also a bright and sunny morning – a great day to dedicate a new community public park. Valley Oak’s dedication coincided with unveiling of the 2016 SPARK Art Calendar. Each SBISD campus is featured in the new, colorful calendar.

The Valley Oaks PTA contributed $356,000 to SPARK Park improvements with a successful capital campaign through both corporate sponsors and families. Tammy Bateman was a Valley Oaks Elementary Diamond Sponsor, the highest level given to special donors. She also delivered special remarks.

Twelve families ranked as Pillars of the Community through special donations, and dozens of other families gave generously and are listed as Foundation Families.

“The Valley Oaks SPARK Park Committee gratefully acknowledges the support of its students, families, neighbors and the corporations who helped make our dream a reality, brick by brick,” the committee writes.

The rededicated school park includes fitness equipment, a gazebo, play equipment, and a track and soccer field. Trees for Houston planted 40 trees in the park assisted by Cub Scout Pack 552.

Art teacher Kimberly Lamb worked with students to create tiles that are featured on a serpentine wall at the park entrance. This tile wall is featured in the calendar. Artist Ros Toro installed a mosaic design around the park’s gazebo. She was also involved in the special tilework featured at Nottingham Elementary.

In addition to several SBISD Trustees and Senior Staff members, special guests at the Valley Oaks gathering included state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, local City Council District A Member Brenda Stardig and Council Member at Large Jack Christie.

SBISD Superintendent Scott Muri, Ed.D., talked to students and others about the importance of the district’s core values like Collective Greatness and Every Child during his brief remarks.

“We do believe in Collective Greatness,” he told Valley Oaks students, parents and teachers. “We believe that it really takes a group of people, all types of individuals, to educate you. We’re greatest when we’re all together.”

Speaking of the district’s Every Child value, he said, “We believe in each of you. We want you all to have smiles on your face. We want you all to really enjoy this new park.”

Valley Oaks fourth-grade choir performed. Special ribbon cuttings were also held at both SPARK dedication events.

Spark Park News Release for Valley Oaks Elementary >>


Post a Comment

Do you have feedback? Tell us.