Students jog to get new playground

Minutes after school started Friday morning, students at Madison Elementary took off running. And they ran and ran and ran.

The Madison Tigers Jogathon was the first step in raising money to replace the aging playground at the newly refurbished school. And the students did their part. In a bright sunshine, they ran and ran, raising money with each lap finished. As they passed teachers and family members, they would call out. “I finished four laps” or “I finished 10 laps.”

For 30 minutes the students ran, walked and persevered with a goal of getting new playground equipment few of them will ever get to enjoy.

Madison Principal Karli Ainsworth said the idea for new playground equipment came about after the year-long construction process that completely renovated Madison School.

During construction, the school’s swings were removed and not replaced. And next to the shiny, newly rebuilt school, the aging playground equipment just stuck out.

Ainsworth said the playground equipment is 20 years old and is nearing the end of its life cycle. Add that to the fact there are no longer swings at the school, and Ainsworth said they began looking at a way to get new equipment.

Coos Bay School District does not have bond funding left after building Eastside School, Marshfield Junior High, rebuilding Madison and planned work at Millicoma. Ainsworth said if the district didn’t have money, Madison employees and a few parents decided to do it themselves.

Replacing and installing all the playground equipment costs between $180,000 and $200,000, but that hefty price tag only motivated the Madison team.

Ainsworth said the jogathon was the first step in raising funds, and she hopes to raise all the money in a year. In the coming weeks, Madison expects to announce its next step in the fundraising efforts, one that will allow the entire community to help out.

But on Friday, it was the students doing the bulk of the work. The kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students never stopped during the 30-minute jogathon.

Perhaps the motivation was knowing the student who ran the most laps would get a special treat – an opportunity to throw a pie at Ainsworth next week.

Keep an eye on the Coos Bay School District website and the Madison website for updates and opportunities to join in the fundraising efforts.