Linden Rotary Helps Fund New Elementary School Playground Equipment

The Rotary Club of Linden presents a check to E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School in Front Royal for new playground equipment during a presentation at the playground.  Shown from left are Rotary Club members Lee Ruddle and Dave Hardy (back row), Principal Lori Layman, former Principal Margaret Holmes, Rotary members Rob Grimm, Rhonda North and Michael Williams, and club President George Karnes. The equipment pictured behind them was purchased with a donation from the club last year. 

A recent donation to E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School will fund fitness and fun for Warren County children. The $9,000 donation that George Karnes, president of the Rotary Club of Linden, presented to Principal Lori Layman at a Tuesday morning presentation will go to new playground equipment at the school.

The donation, which included a $3,000 matching action grant from Rotary District 7570, is part of a greater effort by the local Rotary Club to renovate the playground, Karnes said.

Last year, the club funded the addition of a volleyball court to replace an old parking lot.

"Altogether, we'll have raised about $15,000," he said. The Front Royal Kiwanis Club, School Board and Parent-Teacher Association also contributed funds over the last two years, he said.

"It's staggering how much playground equipment costs," said Karnes, who wrote this year's grant to the Rotary district. He estimated the cost of everything the school has planned will be about $20,000.

Last year's donation included a new piece of playground equipment with climbing bars, stairs and a slide, said Layman, who became principal after Margaret Holmes retired at the end of the last school year.

"We are hoping to be able to purchase some additional swings and possible standalone pieces of equipment," Layman said.

Currently, the playground includes a six-swing swing set, two stand-alone slides and a seesaw. She said if the school purchases new swings, they will replace a second, older swing set, but "nothing else would be taken out."

The new equipment, she said, "gives more variety for the students when they're outside at recess. ... It allows them to try different things that they normally wouldn't have at home."

It also will offer "different ways to keep them active," she said. Layman expects the ordering and installment process to take six to eight weeks.

"We would probably continue to fundraise through PTA to see if we could replace the additional items," she said.

Of the $9,000 donation, $6,000 came from funds the Rotary raised through its annual gala. Karnes said Holmes worked with the Rotary on the collaborative grant before she retired.

"This was really a passion of hers to get this playground built," he said.

It was a passion for many Rotary members too, who attended the school as children.

"They went to school there when they were kids 50 years ago," Karnes said. "So it's really old equipment."