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Canton Hansen Elementary School gets new playground, outdoor classroom

Posted by Dave Eisenstadter  May 9, 2013 04:11 PM

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Canton Hansen Elementary playgroundFollowing an eight-month fund-raising blitz, one of Canton’s elementary schools will be cutting the ribbon for a new playground and outdoor classroom on Friday.

Peter Boucher, principal of Lt. Peter M. Hansen Elementary School, said the school community came together behind the projects under the name “Team Hansen.”

“We feel really good about what’s going on at the school now – think big and go big,” Boucher said Thursday.

When Boucher first became principal of the school in 2011, the playground area was too small to accommodate all students and did not even have basketball hoops, Boucher said.

The school has nearly 500 students, and the kindergarteners were not able to go out and play in the morning, he said.

Boucher began with an effort to get basketball hoops installed at the playground during his first year, and fund-raising began in earnest at the start of the current school year for another playground.

Sharon Stemm, fund-raising director of the Canton Association of Parents and Teachers, raised about $10,000 with a pair of fitness events, then the Bank of Canton donated another $10,000, according to Boucher.

One anonymous Canton family, which will be revealed Friday, decided to donate a three-to-one match of up to $45,000 if the Canton school community could raise $15,000.

“Team Hansen got behind it, families started to send money, and before we knew it, we were at $15,000,” Boucher said.

The new playground, created by Northeast Playground Builders in Braintree, will have climbing equipment shaped like rocks and trees. The Hansen school wound up bidding for it against schools across the country and got it for $58,000, Boucher said.

Canton Hansen Elem outdoor classroomAt the same time, the school applied for and received a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s Home Improvement in Dedham for an outdoor classroom. The classroom has stone benches and a slate that can be used as a chalkboard, Boucher said.

Landscapers, the custodial staff, and other volunteer labor came together to produce the outdoor classroom, Boucher said.

“Organized time outside really does connect to academic learning,” Boucher said. “Being outside stimulates the brain.”

The dedication ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday with a picnic dinner and the ribbon cutting will begin at 6:30. Boucher said he expects 600 people to attend.

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