RICHMOND, Va. – More than 100 volunteers gathered at Clark Springs on Ground Monday to brighten up the playground area with interactive learning activities and games. Organizers said the hope is that students and staff at Fox Elementary School would enjoy the space when they move to Clark Springs as a temporary learning environment after a fire destroyed the historic school in February.
VCU senior Faith Anna was one of several students to join the effort. Drawing a colorful map of America, she began to master the art of stenciling.
“I say the more the better for the color,” laughed Anna. “I try to dab more than paint because it’s really difficult to get into all the little pebbles.”
The tarmac of Clark Springs served as a canvas for Anna. She said she is excited for the opportunity to help children in Richmond.
“You can do a lot of different things, e.g. B. Jump to different states,” said Anna. “I had a card in my elementary school, so it’s kind of cool that I can make it for other kids.”
The vibrant facelift of a once-dilapidated asphalt pavement was thanks to a partnership between VCU’s education program and Richmond Public Schools.
Stefanie Ramsey, from RPS’ physical education department, said after hearing about the fire at Fox, she wanted to make sure students and teachers had all the materials they needed to continue exercising. The next step was to transform Clark Springs into a welcoming place to train and learn.
“One of the things we talked about was making it a bright space,” she said.
Wanting to get involved, Misti Mueller of the VCU School of Education recruited dozens of students who came to Clark Springs for a “Day of Service” to help bring the asphalt to life.
“I thought it would just be a perfect opportunity to create spaces for physical activity but also for active learning,” said Müller.
Volunteers drew everything from heaven and hell to an alphabet tree, a numeric chart, the solar system to piano keys. Müller said the goal is for children not only to train at the stations, but to stimulate their minds.
“We have math, we have science, language arts and social studies,” Mueller said. “When they go back in, they’ll be ready to learn.”
RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras stopped by to tour the tarmac for himself and thanked everyone who came out to help.
“I’m just excited. I mean, gosh, I want to jump out of here,” Kamras said. “Playing is important. It’s important for adults, but it’s certainly important for children and especially for children who are still processing the events of the fire.”
Kamras also gave an update on when the Clark Springs renovations could be complete, saying crews are still aiming to have everything ready by April 19th Meeting.
“Things are going well. I just walked through the building,” he said. “It’s completely painted inside. The roof has been patched and the exterior doors have been replaced. They do all the electrical and plumbing work and some mold remediation. It looks like a brand new building.”
For VCU students who joined the mission, every stroke of a paint roller or brush had a meaning that went deeper than the asphalt surface.
“I’m looking forward to seeing these kids out there and having fun,” said junior Chris Cates.
When Cates built a square, he wanted to convey a valuable message to young children.
“As a community, keep loving each other, use this space to move freely, have fun together,” Cates said. “Never take a moment for granted.”
Organizers stressed that they hope the entire Randolph community will use the space even after the Fox community moves back to a new building. They also plan to fix the basketball hoops and tennis courts and install a pickleball court.