OXFORD, Miss. – Willie Price Lab School, a pre-K facility operated by the University of Mississippi School of Education, has made a sizeable donation to the Lafayette County School District with the gift of its existing playground as the preschool makes plans to replace the play structure.
Coordinated by members of Lafayette’s parent-teacher organization, the playground soon will be used by children at Lafayette, which did not previously have a playground for its lower elementary school. Willie Price will upgrade its facility with the installation of a new playground later this winter.
“Our playground was better-suited for children who are a little bit older, like the children at Lafayette,” explained Sarah Langley, Willie Price director. “So, when we were approached by the Lafayette PTO, we thought it was a perfect solution. (That playground) still has a lot of life left in her!”
Willie Price administrators decided to upgrade the facility in preparation for the preschool to become accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The new playground will be purchased with funding from a grant from the Mississippi Department of Education.
Lafayette PTO members, including Pam Swain and Amanda Winburn, played key roles in the coordination of the gift by working with staff at Willie Price and Lafayette.
“I have two daughters in the Lafayette School District, so when I heard Sarah talking about Willie Price’s new play equipment, I put two and two together,” said Winburn, UM assistant professor of counselor education and a Lafayette PTO member. “I think this is a wonderful example of how it takes a village to provide for opportunities our children.”
Oxford-based company McGregor Industrial Steel Fabrication donated the workforce and resources needed to move the structure from Willie Price to the Lafayette campus on Nov. 15.
The structure will be split into two pieces at its new location. Part of the playground will be used by Lafayette’s lower elementary school and part of it will be used by the district’s special education program.
“We started raising money a couple of years ago to build a new playground (at Lafayette),” said Swain, who serves as president of Lafayette’s upper elementary PTO.
“So now, this will allow us to use the money we’ve raised to build new fencing. This puts us light years ahead of where we thought we could be in the process.”
Willie Price’s new structure will be installed in the coming months and the preschool will host a silent auction fundraiser in January to raise additional money for additional playground features such as balance beams, conversation benches and shades to add to the overall design of the playground.