Students at LMS received a very merry early Christmas present this year with the opening of the new and much-improved school playground. The project, a years-long labor of love by Ginger Birnbaum, former PTA president, puts the funds raised by several years of “Night Out for Lookout” events to excellent use.
On November 18, Commissioner of Education Don Stinnett cut the red ribbon to officially open the playground for fun and service to the mountain’s children. Laughter and play immediately ensued as happy frolickers swarmed the playground, all enjoying the challenging climbing apparatus and slides, enjoying the pleasure of being out-of-doors. Commissioner Stinnett, when teasingly asked if it was fun to get to preside over the opening of a playground, smiled and said, “It’s a tribute, I think, to the importance of LMS to the community, to open playgrounds and open carnivals and things like this that focus on our children and young families. It’s why this school is the cornerstone of our community. I can’t imagine what Lookout Mountain would look like if we had no children on the playground or no children walking to school; it would take the heart out of this community.”
Amen, Commissioner Stinnett. I can attest that my husband, Andrew Mutter, and I came from the bustle of Atlanta to Lookout Mountain with the dream of offering our children what we knew existed here in a special package: an idyllic childhood in a beautiful place uniquely equipped to nurture them in body (the hikes!), mind (LMS!), and soul (the sweet community of friends, churches, and glorious surroundings). When you get to celebrate the opening of a school playground carefully selected by a mother you admire and count a dear friend, surrounded by the principal of the school, commissioners, and special people from the community who are deeply committed to its children (your children) at a school only a short jaunt away from home, it’s plainly clear that neither Atlanta, nor any other place, holds a candle to this sweet mountain.
Principal Ruth White said of the day: “This is just unbelievable. It’s the end of a dream that we started on years ago. Coach Rick Dockery and various PTA presidents and I walked the grounds back here, and, looking at the fact that we needed a new playground and yet realizing that we had to fix the drainage, get trees down for the greenhouse, and more, well, it’s just been a huge undertaking.”
Current PTA president Melissa Youngblood noted that there is also a smaller set of playground equipment further behind the field for the older children that is a little bit more challenging. It has monkey bar “sliders,” bars for practicing open-ended gymnastics, and a game with balls built in somewhat like four-square. I asked whether it was fun to be tasked with the job of picking out playground equipment, and Melissa noted that “it like being a kid in a candy store ... all the equipment configurations, colors and choices” made it fun and yet difficult to decide.”
Well, the children have made their decision and the consensus, as evidenced by the fun being had that day all around us, is that the playground equipment is a big hit and already it is bringing lots of joy. Thank you to all the folks who saw it to fruition: Ginger Birnbaum, PTA president emeritus, current PTA President Melissa Youngblood, Principal Ruth White, Commissioner of Education Don Stinnett, former teacher Haven Glascock, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Brooke Pippinger, and all the parents who donated to the playground fund via Night Out for Lookout.