North Gulfport gets first elementary school playground in 40 years

The excitement from the kids is understandable.
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:30 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - After the adults cut a ribbon to dedicate the new playground at North Gulfport Elementary School, the kids broke it in with a playtime like never before.

“I’m so excited,” said kindergarten student Jesus Rodrigues Castillo. “I’m going to play it every day.”

The excitement from the kids is understandable. But it’s the adults who appreciate that this is the first time in more than 40 years that North Gulfport has had an elementary school playground.

During the 2021-22 school year, North Gulfport Middle School added kindergarten through sixth grades. And as word about the playground project spread, $47,000 was raised in just six weeks.

“Volunteers from the school, teachers, administrators, coaches, community members, basketball coaches, referees, business owners,” said Principal Milton Ray III. “It took everyone to work together.”

People like Kenny and Sharon McNair.

“I grew up right here in North Gulfport,” Kenny said. “So, it was very important to me to be able to contribute time, money, services, whatever they need.”

And, the results are a sight to see.

“With all that’s going on in the world right now, to see them actually playing and having a good time, it does my heart pleasure to know that there’s still hope and that there’s still love out there,” Sharon added. “So, looking at them speaks for what we have done.”

And a playground, Ray said, can be an important educational tool.

“The simplicity of a playground, it just means that the kids will have somewhere to spend that energy; to get them excited; give them a chance to get them away from the curriculum; get those neurons flowing in their bodies to get them back into the classrooms and continue to learn.”

The school district is currently in the fundraising stage for phase two of the project that will double the size of the playground.

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