For the first time in nearly 100 years, St. Rose School in Girard has a playground for its students.
The new Virginia Rice Smith Playground was officially dedicated March 26 with a ribbon cutting held just before students were released to play on the swings, monkey bars and merry-go-rounds, made possible through fundraisers by the St. Rose Home and School Association.
Plans for the playground began last year, said St. Rose principal, Linda Borton. With generous donations and fundraisers that included student dress-down days, selling memorial and tribute bricks and public dinners, the $30,000 needed for the playground was the beginning of several projects the Home and School Association has planned for the property.
The playground was built on a section of land where the old St. Rose School once stood and was torn down nearly two years ago.
''After the old school was torn down in June 2010, we saw the opportunity to put a playground here,'' said Melissa Malito, Home and School president.
''We would like to add picnic tables and benches out here,'' Malito said.
The playground is named for a former teacher at the school, Virginia Rice Smith, who taught second through eighth-grade for 37 years at St. Rose. When she retired in 2010, Smith said she was teaching third grade. During one of the Home and School Associations fundraisers, Smith's husband, Frank, placed a bid of $500 to name the school after his wife and was the highest bidder.
''He knows how special this school is to me,'' Smith said.
The organization continues to raise funds for the school and will be hosting a Winner Dinner event at 6 p.m. April 21 to be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Hall in Youngstown. Tickets for the dinner are $50 and will feature several raffles of cash and prizes.
In celebration of the school's 100th anniversary, they continue to sell memorial and tribute bricks that will be used to create a pathway in the playground area. Bricks can be purchased for $50 for a four-by-eight inch engraved brick or $100 for an eight-by-eight inch engraved brick. In the meantime, St. Rose school students are enjoying themselves on the new playground.
''I love seeing them out here getting fresh air and exercise,'' Smith said,''and I love seeing the smiles on their faces.''