Corporate gift funds $100,000 playground at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood
Students at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood have a new $100,000 playground and outdoor classroom thanks to an act of corporate kindness this week.
The donation, made possible by employees of the security intelligence firm Verint Systems Inc. who contributed vacation days and overtime pay to the project, transformed a muddy field behind the state charter school into a play paradise.
On Monday, more than 150 corporate and community volunteers from metro Atlanta and beyond met in the shadow of Ivy Prep Kirkwood to tote mulch, pound nails and erect play sets on Build Day. Some had traveled from Canada, India and China to participate in the KaBoom! Playground donation project.
The playground rose from the mud in six hours.
"This is an amazing day," said Nina Gilbert, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Schools, which has campuses in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. "Like this playground, we were built from the ground up. We thank you for helping us to close the play gap while we close the achievement gap."
Volunteers from the nonprofit playground build organizer KaBoom!: the YMCA; Clark Atlanta University; and the surrounding neighborhood joined the effort to build a playground for Ivy Prep Kirkwood’s 550 students.
Siobhan Miller, a Verint employee who traveled from Washington D.C. for the service project, dragged mulch and hauled heavy cement bags. Miller said she didn’t mind the cold, mud or hard work because she wanted to help the school. “The kids inside are totally cute.”
The playground donation comes as Ivy Prep Kirkwood, a campus housing two single gender schools, celebrates its approval from the state Board of Education to continue serving students. The charter contracts for the girls’ school and boys’ school were both renewed for five years based on their academic progress with students.
"Now the kids will have somewhere to burn off their energy and refocus on instruction when they return to class," said parent Pierre Sheppard of the new playground.
The playground was designed to meet the specifications of students minus their requests for a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and12-foot rock wall, said Suzann McMahon, a human resources vice president at Verint. "We took their ideas and tried to accommodate them."
The playground will be used for work and play.
It features fun for kids on a twisting slide, swings, a play zone with bars, seats and a climb structure dubbed the “Ivy Dome.”
The work area takes advantage of the local ecosystem.
It features an outdoor classroom with a chalkboard and a scenic view of birds landing in tall shade trees. Students will learn to be environmentally conscious using a rainwater collecting system to provide water for a vegetable garden growing in nearby planters. A stage platform with outdoor seating will give students a place to put on productions about what they are learning.
A tall signpost carrying the names of Ivy League and local universities will remind kids to stay on the path to college.
Students Kanira Malcom, 9, and Mariya Perrimon, 7, eyed the playground with anticipation as they planted vegetables with their Girl Scout troop in the outdoor classroom. They were thrilled that the days of having recess on a barren blacktop would soon end. "I want to play on all of it," Kanira said.
When the playground was complete, Elan Moriah, president of Verint Systems, presented Gilbert with a check for more than $100,000 to pay for the playground.
"We're rich," screamed third grader Tyrik Cherry.
"It took everyone working together to make this happen," added Principal A. Clifton Miles, head of Ivy Prep's Young Men's Leadership Academy.
Volunteers were determined to finish Monday. Weekend rainfall threatened to delay the project, but helpers persevered. The spirit of the volunteers "has just been amazing," said Bill Ryan, an executive at Verint’s Alpharetta office.
"This is the kind of public-private partnership we need to see more of in DeKalb County," said Stan Watson, a DeKalb County Commissioner who attended the event.
Parent Sheppard said the community effort to build the playground was inspirational. "When you see businesses from corporate America come into [neighborhoods] and do something like this, I think it raises the standard for the community as well as the student body."
The outdoor classroom and play area is a welcomed addition to the campus at Kirkwood.
Principal Kendra Shipmon said staff and students are ecstatic that so many people came from across the world to invest money and time to help kids succeed. "I can't believe that something like this happened to a little school in DeKalb.”
For more information on the Kirkwood playground or charter renewal, contact D. Aileen Dodd, Media Relations Coordinator, Ivy Preparatory Academy, email@example.com.