Despite the heavy rains the night before and drizzling rain Wednesday, Feb. 6, Little Cypress Intermediate School held a ground breaking ceremony for their new “Stay and Play Recreational Area.” This is a playground that is being designed and built for the special needs students. Families, administrators, representatives from Granger Chevrolet and Lowe’s Port Arthur were on hand to cheer as the special needs students, Rachel Choate their teacher, Chris Pachuca-Adaptive PE Coach and Kelly Meadows-School Nurse decided to get a little wet and break ground for this exciting project. Each one of the special needs students received their own shovel and took turns digging in the dirt.

“Stay and Play Recreational Area” will be built in four stages as funding becomes available. Lowe’s Toolbox For Education Grant of $5,000 provided the money for Stage 1 which involves installing a 6’ black coated chain-linked fence around a 40’ X 40’ area outside of the Life Skills Classroom and purchasing a picnic table designed for the physically challenged as well as some sensory stimulating portable playground equipment.

After hearing they had been awarded the grant a meeting was held with representatives from the Lowe’s store in Port Arthur, LCM Maintenance Director-Philip Matthews, LCI’s Principal-Julia Dickerson, Rachel Choate- Life Skills Teacher and Kelly Meadows-School Nurse to discuss the project. Lowe’s representatives Charlie Muldoon and Dan Gholson offered their assistance to help with this project by contacting some of their friends and clients regarding possible

5,000 grant will be utilized to help with Stage 2 of the project which involves pouring a 6’ X 20’ sidewalk from the existing driveway to the Stay and Play Recreational Area, a concrete pad within the fenced area that will then be covered with a poured rubberized surface to provide a 5 ½’ cushioned fall zone.

LCI has also received a generous donation from Butch and Justine Gaston of Houston that has provided the opening of the account for Stage 2. Kelly Meadows and Rachel Choate are continuing to write grants in hopes of securing enough additional funding to be able to complete Stage 2 over the summer since the students will not be able to play outside after the concrete inside the fence has been poured, cured for 30 days and the rubberized surface installation completed.

The grant writing and accepting of donations will continue as they then begin preparing for Stage 3, erecting a metal awning 12 ‘ high over the entire Stay and Play Recreational Area. Many of the special needs students do not tolerate the heat or direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. At this point, it will also serve as an outdoor classroom and can be utilized by the general education students when not occupied by the special needs students. The final stage of this project will be to purchase and install some age appropriate, permanent sensory stimulating handicap accessible playground components.

This project has prompted Mrs. Lisa Stephenson’s 5th grade homeroom to take on the new name of Stephenson Contracting Inc. for the next couple of weeks. They are using different skills that they have learned to determine the amount of fencing and concrete that will be needed to complete this project then they will submit their proposals along with their drawings to Mrs. Meadows. Once the fence has been installed, they will return to the construction site to take measurements to find out if their proposals were correct. Stephenson’s Contracting Inc. will be involved in each phase of this project.

Anyone interested in getting involved with this project should contact Kelly Meadows at 886-4245 ext. 5.