On Monday, October 5, 9th grade students and teachers from Passaic Arts and Sciences Charter School- Middle High participated in a KaBoom! Project aimed at creating a new safe play space at Christopher Columbus Park in Passaic, New Jersey. Situated across the street from W.B. Cruise School #11, Christopher Columbus Park had little equipment for children to engage in healthy physical activity. With the help of KaBoom!, sponsors Carmax and Microsoft, and the hard work of volunteers, Christopher Columbus Park was transformed from a desolate field to a magical space where children can imagine, play, and enjoy nature.
The 9th grade team, along with 47 9th grade students, contributed to the transformation of the park by painting multicolored checker boards, as well as filling and levelling the soon to be christened volleyball pit. A majority of our time was spent filling large tarps with sand, transferring it to the volleyball pit, and pouring the sand, which was then levelled by other students, using rakes and shovels. Aside from the volleyball pit and large checkers and chess sets, brand new state of the art equipment was installed, as well as a small flower garden with benches. While the task was strenuous, teamwork among the 9th graders made the assignment successful.
It was wonderful watching students using skills they have forged in the classroom, such as problem solving skills and team building skills, outside in a real world setting. Seeing different students interact with one another on a more hands-on approach to accomplishing a task provided the teachers a slight peak into the mind of our students. Seeing the skills we help our students form, as well as encourage them to practice, in a different, non-classroom setting, was thrilling. Watching our students give back to their communities by creating something with their own hands, something that will contribute to the wellbeing of their neighbors, was a gift. Despite the many aches and pains accumulated throughout the laborious event, smiles and a sense of accomplishment could be seen on the faces of our students.