Rev. Joseph Garvin addressed students at St. Christopher School in Somerton from a very different pulpit during a playground dedication held on Friday.
Students gathered around the new playground, complete with four slides and plenty of equipment to climb, cheering on their pastor who stood at the top of the blue plastic tower. They exuded school spirit from the green hairspray in their hair to their yellow and green gym suits.
After raising more than $17,000 through corporate donations from local businesses and sponsorships the students received from family members and neighbors for their spirit day and triathlon, their playground was finally complete.
Garvin assured the students that their new play space, tucked into the corner of the school and gated on the opposite side, is safe – before sliding down one of the tall blue slides towards the roaring crowd of students.
The playground represens more than just a space for recess. When the elementary school faced declining enrollment rates, a decision was made to expand the early childhood education programs with the introduction of two pre-K sections for children ages 3 to 4.
“Our upgraded and updated pre-K program currently has waiting lists for both sections,” Principal Mary Tremper said.
Mark Fabbi, the school’s director of instructional advancement, said he believes the playground sends out a message to the community.
“I believe the playground shows the strength of the institution and the future of serving this community,” he said. “We have been educating students since 1953 and hope to continue for an additional 60 years.”
Jessica Lopez and Lucia Volpe are students reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.