Where do the children play?
For the past year, it's been a pressing question on the minds of students, teachers and administrators at Beecher Road School. But Friday, less than a year after two 24-year-old playgrounds were dismantled due to safety concerns, cheering students welcomed the ribbon-cutting that brought them the second replacement -- and promptly spilled onto the equipment within minutes.
"We made a promise," said superintendent Guy Stella in a speech to students beforehand. "Last year in the fall, two playgrounds were taken down overnight on a Friday. You came back on a Monday, and those playgrounds weren't there. So we promised we would get those two playgrounds up within a year."
And they did. The school brought special guests -- including State Representative Themis Klarides, State Senator Joe Crisco, and Woodbridge First Selectman Edward Maum Sheehy -- to celebrate the opening of the south playground at the Woodbridge school.
"I think Woodbridge is probably the only school in the state that's dedicated 2 playgrounds in six months," Sheehy told the crowd.
Sheehy also took time to publicly welcome Gina Frisco, who started as principal at the school this year from West Haven, and Nancy White, who was promoted to Assistant Principal. The timing had originally been planned to coincide with Frisco's start on the first day of school.
"But there was so much Connecticut rock there, it took a few days," Stella said.
The bedrock around the new playground area required the school to bring in professionals, unlike the playground unveiled in April, which Stella described as "like the story of Stone Soup."
Stella also thanked physical education teacher Sandra Simowitz, who is providing staff and students with a comprehensive orientation regarding safe use of the new equipment, and members of the playground committee, who worked closely with students to choose a playground they would love.
"They gave feedback," said Stella. "We brought them pictures of different options. They gave feedback from the ground up -- no pun intended -- and waited anxiously. And we finally kept our promise."