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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2008

'Miracle' sparks new life for St. Anthony School's playground

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - Since their new playground was installed, observers say, the children at St. Anthony School can't wait for recess.

It's a miracle playground, St. Anthony church member Mark Johnson said, and not just because the brand name is Miracle.

It took an eight-month fund-raising campaign to bring the playground to life, with its 10 swings, a 16-foot slide, and, best of all, a new "X-Wave" - a variation on the teeter-totter, that allows 20 children to simultaneously push themselves high and low above the mulch.

"It's really cool. Kids love it," school secretary Julie Fuzinski said. "It's like a teeter-totter, but it's not."

Were it not for two anonymous donors, however, recess at St. Anthony might not be quite the sensation it is.

The prekindergarten-through-eighth-grade school's students sold buckets of cookie dough to help defray the costs for their giant new toy.

Then, two nameless benefactors came through with $5,000 and $10,000 each to close the deal, Ms. Fuzinski said.

Finally, nearly 50 volunteers convened to put together the contraption.

Mr. Johnson hopes the new equipment will quell rumors that the Catholic school serving about 115 students will be closed down.

"I'm very interested in keeping the school open so my daughter can go [there]," Mr. Johnson said. "There's a lot of rumors going around that St. Anthony is closing, but it's not."

Enrollment has declined, he said, but that's true at many Catholic schools and the feeble state of the economy isn't helping, he added.

With the new recreational addition, and a new library program, St. Anthony parents and church members are hoping to defy the odds.

"Maybe we can kind of turn it around a little bit," Mr. Johnson said. "We don't want to end up closing the school down the road."

Contact Angie Schmitt at:

aschmitt@theblade.com

or 419-724-6104.



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