‘It’s been a labor of love’: Three Oaks Elementary PTO installs new playground after years of fundraising

Clarke Kjellman, 5, of Cary swings at an older playground as her father Andrew and many volunteers and friends of Three Oaks Elementary School constructed a new playground at the Cary school on Saturday. Children of volunteers were supervised at the older playground by Three Oaks Principal Kyle Block.

About two dozen community members and parents of students at Three Oaks Elementary School in Cary soaked up the sunshine Saturday and worked together to install a new playground at the school.

The new playground came to fruition after years of fundraising efforts by the Three Oaks Parent Teacher Organization. The PTO fundraised for the playground because Cary-based School District 26 doesn’t allocate funds for playground maintenance, according to previous Northwest Herald reporting.

“It’s a long time coming,” Meredith Rodewald, playground committee co-chair, said. “Everybody’s been incredibly supportive.”

Rodewald said she has two children who attend Three Oaks and a third who will attend the school in the fall. She said all her children will be able to enjoy the new playground, which replaces one of the school’s three original playgrounds, and that the PTO hopes to replace the others, as well.

“They’re all definitely ready to be replaced,” Rodewald said.

Rodewald said some school board members stopped by the school Saturday to check in and help with the playground installation.

Rodewald added that first-year Three Oaks principal Kyle Block knew the project was a priority.

Block was at the school Saturday, supervising children of the parent volunteers as they played on another playground near where the adults were installing the new one.

“It feels right to have the school open,” Block said.

Block said the school is planning to have a small ceremony, like a ribbon-cutting, Monday at the playground. “It’ll be ready to go” by Monday, Block said.

Block said that Three Oaks students have been asking questions about the playground and have been involved in the playground process, saying “They’re very excited.”

“It’s been a labor of love,” PTO President Stephanie Steiner said of the yearslong fundraising efforts. Steiner said the PTO hopes “to start working on round 2 in the near future.”

In contrast to the two other playgrounds original to the school and the old playground that was replaced, Three Oaks PTO President Stephanie Steiner said the PTO was looking to incorporate bright colors into the new playground and make it “visually exciting.”

Steiner said the playground the PTO replaced this weekend is the most used of the three. There’s also space for the playground to grow. “We left open spots so we can add on,” Steiner said.

Block said the PTO has done a great job on the playground.

“It’s been the hard work of our community. I’m really appreciative.”