Tuesday was a day the children of George J. West Elementary School in Providence, R.I., will remember for years to come.
Robert Kraft, Andre Tippett and Patriots rookie Brandon King visited the school to present a $10,000 grant in conjunction with the New England Dairy and Food Council and the NFL's Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative. Mr. Kraft personally selected the urban school to receive the funds, which will go toward enhancing its outdoor play area.
During a morning assembly to celebrate the financial award, though, Mr. Kraft surprised the school with a pledge to donate an additional $10,000.
"It's like Christmas came early," said Principal Sandra Stuart of Mr. Kraft's announcement. "I was in awe. The minute I heard it, I just kept thinking of all the great additional things I could purchase for our schoolyard."
Principal Stuart and her faculty learned they had won the much-needed grant the day before Thanksgiving. They plan to use the money to turn their very basic play area into a more engaging and educational space. With stenciling, they will create games like hopscotch and foursquare as well as a map of the United States. They also hope to add picnic tables with umbrellas, basketball hoops and a walking track.
"This is going to provide a really great play area for our kids," Principal Stuart explained. "Right now, we have little bags with jump ropes and balls and they'll bring those out, but it's not a structured area because we don't have a lot of space. With this money, we are going to provide a structure."
The division of space is needed, she said, because the school has 860 students and often, eight or 10 classrooms are outside for recess at the same time.
Although the students will have to wait a little while for their revamped outdoor play area, 36 of them were randomly selected to have some fun during an "Ultimate Gym Class" with Brandon King on Tuesday morning. The high-energy session included activities like ladder drills, relays and stretching. Meanwhile, other students were visited in their classrooms by Pat Patriot and the cheerleaders.
All in all, it made for a day that has been unlike any other in the 10 years that Principal Stuart has been with West Elementary.
"For some of my kids, this is probably what they will remember about our school," she commented. "This day will be a lasting memory that they will never, ever forget."
On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Robert Kraft, Andre Tippett and Brandon King visited Providence's George J. West Elementary School to present a check for $20,000 and lead students in an "Ultimate Gym Class" experience. The grant is a partnership between the Patriots, New England Dairy and Food Council, and Fuel Up to Play 60.