Thursday morning at 11 am was an exciting and inspirational moment as McHenry Primary officially opened their new handicap-accessible playground. Approximately 200 friends, family and students of McHenry were on hand to witness Principal Jenni Cunningham cut the ribbon that was immediately followed by cheers from the crowd and a balloon release that left many of the adults in attendance with tears in their eyes as they realized what this playground would mean to so many very special children. Cunningham herself was forced to fight back tears as she addressed the crowd just prior to the ribbon cutting. “We are truly amazed and humbled by the outpouring of support, so I cannot thank you enough for making this dream come true”, she said.
Penny Pryor then took the microphone and thanked Ra-Lin Construction Company, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, and other businesses and individuals who generously contributed funds to complete the project which in the end had a price tag of $35, 000. The majority of this was funded by the Pepsi Refresh Project which awarded them a $25,000 grant after McHenry finished in the #1 spot in a voter based contest during the month of August. Penny stated to Rome Newswire the day after they finished at #1 that, “We truly came together as a community to create a network of voters that could not be stopped. I am still amazed at how everyone pushed us to the top. Every media outlet in Rome did a tremendous job promoting our school and our project. County, city and private schools joined together with colleges and universities to create a network of texting that simply could not be beat. Businesses, hospitals, civic organizations, county and city employees…they all came together to support a little school with a big dream.”
They did indeed. And many of those supporters were in attendance to watch the joy and wonderment on every young face as they patiently watched the ceremony. Within seconds of the balloon release, however, the playground was crowded with excited and overjoyed pre-k students. An open house of McHenry followed for two hours led by third grade students at McHenry. Refreshments were provided and a good time was had by all!
Congratulations McHenry on a wonderful new addition that will bring joy to children for years to come. It has been an amazing journey for me that I am honored to have been a part. It’s been remarkable to witness the outpouring of love from my community as they embraced this very special group of kids who have learned a most valuable lesson…to believe with all your heart in the power of your dreams.