As Congin School students bake on the black top during their last week of recess, they can rest assured that they’ll return in the fall to a shadier play area.

The elementary school students gathered in their gymnasium last week for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new green space that will sprawl across the front of Congin. Trees, bushes and wooden beams for sitting and playing will replace the asphalt adjacent to their playground – and the children couldn’t be more excited.

The students hooted and hollered while presenting bouquets of flowers made out of tissue paper to the adults who are making the project happen – from the manager at Lowe’s, which awarded the school a $7,500 grant, to school maintenance director Allan Bickford.

“We are so thankful to the people who made this green space possible,” said fourth-grader Alex Cottrell. “Without them we would just have a plain old black fence.”

According to art teacher Lynne Shulman, the project has been two years in the making, from when fifth-grade teacher Liz Barker first came up with a concept to the school receiving enough money through grants to make it happen.

Along the way, students have been learning about their environment and getting excited for the green space.

“There’s been a lot of kid involvement,” Shulman said.

Though Congin students will reap the greatest benefits from the new green space, Shulman said, it’s intended to be enjoyed by the whole community. After all, it was the generosity of the community, Shulman said, that turned the idea of a few teachers into a reality.

In addition to the money from Lowe’s, the entire project was made possible through grants from the Maine Forest Service, Portland Trails and Home Depot. Local landscape architect Kevin Downing donated time to design the green space.

“The community is really coming forth to help with this,” Shulman said.

The project is set to be completed by the middle of July.

“We’re very excited to have it,” said Congin School Principal Peter Lancia. “Our kids have wanted it for a long time, and our staff has wanted it for a long time.”

Fourth-graders Alexis Fletcher and Haley Jordan said they’re looking forward to the transformation of their school next fall, and a new place to hang out.

“The trees and flowers are going to be beautiful, and it’s going to get rid of the ugly, black front,” said Fletcher, 9.

After sweltering in the heat Monday, Jordan, 10, said she’ll welcome the shade of the new trees.

“It’s going to be good just to chill out,” she said. “I can’t wait.”

From black top to green space – Congin School – and community – to get new shady knoll


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