Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 27, 2013

Grant to provide added security at school

Lowe’s gives $5,000 for Taylor playground fence.

By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer

— A $5,000 grant from Lowe’s will allow Taylor Primary School to build a fence around its playground to protect students at recess, Principal Teri Stokes said.

Stokes reported to the school board in October that there had been ongoing issues with graffiti and unannounced visitors in and around the playground at the primary school.

The school sits inside the Indian Heights subdivision, a heavily traveled area, and there is no fence protecting students who are on the playground, the principal said. It was becoming a safety issue, she had said.

Before now, however, the school just didn’t have the funds to complete the project.

“Our parent-teacher organization has been raising money for it for four years,” Stokes said. “They’ve raised $4,000.”

Even that wasn’t enough, though.

So Stokes applied for the Toolbox for Education grant from Lowe’s.

She envisioned creating a space that not only protected students but provided a sort of retreat for them, too.

“We want it to be our home away from home,” she said.

Stokes found out this month that Lowe’s liked her ideas and was willing to give her $5,000 to fund what she’s calling the Taylor Titan Retreat.

Her first order of business is installing a chain-link fence that’s at least 4 feet tall.

“School security is a big deal,” she said. “We’re all looking at security now. This will further secure our school and keep it safe.”

The district is still considering adding school resource officers at the primary school part time, Taylor Community Schools Superintendent John Magers said during the January board meeting.

He said, ideally, an officer would be present at the beginning and end of the day — the only times the school’s doors are unlocked.

The district is waiting to move forward with the proposal, though. Magers wants to first see what happens to a recently filed Indiana Senate bill that could provide grants to fund such resource officers.

Right now, the security fence is a step in the right direction for the school, Stokes said.

But it’s only one component of the retreat she wants to create for her students by the end of April.

Some of the grant money will be used to purchase shrubs, flowers, herbs and spices that students will plant throughout the playground.

The miniature garden will then be used for classroom lessons, Stokes said.

“It creates a sense of community for them,” she said. “It’s very important. They’re showing the pride they have in their school. They’ll go out to the playground and say, ‘I planted that one over there.’”

Stokes said she hopes the retreat offers the students a nice break from the classroom. It will be the students’ opportunity to feel like they’re away from school, even if it’s just for a few minutes, Stokes said.

“At recess time, it’s going to be an adventure for them,” she said.