Lupita Izarraras is new to Highland Park Elementary this year.
But the fifth-grader already has made her mark there.Izarraras raised $700 to help build a new playground at the school, 1738 E. 2700 South, said Sue Hardy, business partnership coordinator. Recently, the school's top fund-raiser cut the ribbon on the colorful new slides and monkey bars as hundreds of cheering classmates dashed through the woodchip-surface to play.
"I wanted something for the school," Izarraras said. "I really like this school. The teachers are really nice."
Students at the Salt Lake City School District school raised $15,000 for the playground equipment by collecting cereal boxtops, selling wrapping paper and chocolates and participating in paper drives. Some even tipped their own piggy banks for extra funds.
"Our students learned that when we come together as a community, anything can be accomplished," Hardy said. Highland Park is a Community of Caring school.
Several local businesses pitched in another $8,000. Contributors were honored with a "Partners in Education" plaque, to be showcased in the school.
The new playground is part of a PTA effort to upgrade play facilities at several schools in the district, said principal Gene Klatt.
Mountain View Elementary School, 1415 California Ave., held an assembly recently to thank the Sorenson Foundation and the Eccles Foundation for contributing $150,000 to its new playground. The school raised additional cash through walkathons, carnivals and business part-ner-ships.
Klatt says the new equipment was sorely needed at her school in southeastern Salt Lake City.
"There's so many children and not enough for them to do," she said, adding enrollment totals about 700.
Clusters of gray monkey bars, on the playground for as long as memory serves, pale in comparison to the new equipment. And they're pretty empty, too, as the new red slides, green bars and blue bridges are a magnet for play.
"It's kind of fun," said fifth-grader Karl Pfister, who likes the suspension bridge most of all. "But it's crowded."
Never fear. The new playground is only Phase 1 of the equipment update project.
"It is a wise investment in our children's future," said Carol Ritchie, the school's PTA president. "This small ceremony is not headline-grabbing news. But we think it's (significant) in Highland Park Elementary's history."