By TAYLOR HARTZ
Students at Flanders Elementary School will be welcomed back to school with a brand new playground, as the winners of a contest sponsored by Colgate and Shoprite.
Due to their participation in the TerraCycle Recycling program, Flanders was eligible to compete for the $40,000 playground, and came out on top with more than 5,500 votes collected via email.
The Flanders Parent Teacher Organization spearheaded the four-month competition against schools from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland ranking in the top 10.
The goal of the contest was to earn “playground credits” by obtaining online votes from different email addresses each day.
Students were sent home with a sheet to collect up to thirty email addresses each,
and every classroom in the school earned the PTO sponsored incentive, a popsicle party, for collecting at least 275.
Flanders PTO vice president Suzanne Whitehead received a call on July 7, informing her that their collection efforts had been successful, with their total surpassing a close competitor from New York.
Whitehead said that, when it came to collecting signatures, “everyone in school was on board,” and Flanders felt the support from across the community.
“Every school came together to help us,” said Whitehead, who shared that other schools in town sent in their mailing lists, and town manager Garry Brumback and Superintendent Timothy Connellan sent emails to their own mailing lists regarding the contest.
Flanders has been recycling ink cartridges and juice pouches with TerraCycle,
the New Jersey based recycling company that advocates for environmental awareness and education. The playground, according to the TerraCycle website, will be made from recycled oral care waste.
Installation of the new playground is expected to begin in the fall, after a representative from TerraCycle consults with Principal Patricia Mazzarella and Peter Romano, Director of Operations for Southington public schools.
The new playground will be a welcome addition to the recreation area at Flanders.
Currently, only 40 students can fit on the playground at once. With more than 300 students in the school, the extra play space will be put to good use.