GW Elementary School Natural Playscape Committee First Build a Great Success!


Click on image to see photos


The GW Elementary School Natural Playscape Committee hosted it’s first build on Saturday, October 18th from 10 – 2.

It is remarkable to see what putting in new trees and plants can do to a space. It is the beginning of a remarkable transformation.

The group plans to paint the swing set this fall, with more information shortly. In the Spring, hills will be built with slides, tunnels and other terrific opportunities for the children.

For more information, contact GW Elementary School Natural Playscape Co-Chairs Kelly Storrs  [email protected]  or Ann Loeding [email protected]




Click on image to see more photos.


Click on image to see more photos.

GW Elementary School Natural Playscape Committee Hosts First Volunteer Work Day October 18th.


The George Washington School Natural Playscape will have its first volunteer work day on Saturday, Oct. 18 from  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain date, Sunday, October 19. Postponement to Sunday will be announced on the GW NATURAL PLAYSCAPE WEBPAGE.

We will plant bushes and small trees along the fence at the playground, and if the weather permits, will put a new coat of paint on the existing play structures. Please bring shovels and wheelbarrows if you got ’em! We’ll keep you fed and watered throughout the day. We of course welcome children, but we hope they will be there to help with planting and mulching – they will not be allowed to actually play on the playground while we are working. Please stop by for a few minutes or a few hours as your schedule allows. If you can’t help this time, we will be planning several work days next Spring.

This work day is the first step in our efforts to transform GW’s playground into a more natural, park-like play space for the kids. The Natural Playscape involves improvements using natural materials, e.g. boulders, logs, and living plants, to create green spaces that expand and enhance the school’s usable outdoor recreation area. The students and teachers helped create the design that will eventually introduce seating, climbing and crawling elements, and slide hill, a tree fort and student murals and sculptures. The existing playground equipment will be repaired and receive a fresh coat of colorful paint. Landscaping will include care of the existing trees, and new plants and bushes around the perimeter of the sites to add contour, and screen the adjacent street and parking lots.

The project will provide children with outdoor play and learning areas that challenge and engage them, and help us re-vision the entire school yard as a more natural site where native materials like wood, stone, and foliage replace the built environment of blacktop, steel and chain link. A Natural Playscape allows for the same sort of vigorous physical play as more traditional playgrounds, but also stimulates other senses (vision, touch, sound, smell) and encourages safe, creative play.

The GW Natural Playscape Committee thanks Dr. Padalino, Tom Clapper and the Kingston City School District crew, Kingston Department of Public Works, Kingston Parks & Rec, the GW PTO, GW Principal Valerie Hannum, and the students, teachers and parents of the GW community.

Please forward this email to anyone in the GW community who you think may be interested in our project. You may contact me or Kelly, [email protected],  with questions or suggestions.


Friday, May 16th is a day for a 4th Grade Yard Sale! A Lemonade Stand! A Clothing Drive!

The GW Elementary School will be buzzing with activity on Friday, May 16th.  Look at all that is happening in just one single day! We need gently used items for donation for both the yard sale and clothing drive, so bring in your donations anytime between now and the events.  Join us for the fun and support our children!


The GW Elementary School EII hosted a yard sale and earned over $500 for their moving up ceremony!

Yard Sale!

The George Washington Elementary School Fourth Graders Host Their Annual Yard Sale.  Join the children on the GW Elementary School front lawn from 2:00pm – 4:00pm for a yard sale. All proceeds will be designated toward the 4th grade school field trip to “Six Flags Great Adventures” and their ‘Moving Up” ceremony, that occurs each year.

We are accepting donations. Please bring your items, in good condition, to the main office between now and the time of the event.

For more information, contact Valerie Hannum at: [email protected]


Miss Caitlin's E1 Class is looking to raise $300 through 'Alex's Lemonade Stand' in memory of Anjeahlina Mann, the sister of one of her students who passed to child cancer in 2011. They surpassed it by raising over $600! Way to go!

Miss Caitlin’s E1 Class is looking to raise $300 through ‘Alex’s Lemonade Stand’ in memory of Anjeahlina Mann, the sister of one of her students who passed to child cancer in 2011.

3rd and 4th Grade Students to host Lemonade Stand with all proceeds going towards combating childhood cancers.

Ms. Caitlin’s class is hosting its 3rd Annual “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” on the same day from 12:00pm – 3:00pm to help combat childhood cancers. Ms. Caitlin believes that, “a big part of teaching children is to provide opportunities for them to give back as a very important life lesson.”  This year, the group hopes to raise $300.00.

The community can also make a donation to their goal by visiting the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation site.

For more information, contact Caitlin Sanzi at: [email protected]



The George Washington Elementary School PTO Host Clothing Drive Fundraiser. The proceeds from the event to occur from 9:00am – 4:30pm will go towards supporting field trips, school supplies and the GW Natural Playscape project.

The GW PTO invite the public to drop off their used items at a one day collection of  clothes, blankets, linens, towels, bath rugs, shoes (bagged separately) and children’s toys.   The drop off  location will be in the front of the school. All items not sold at the 4th Grade Yard Sale will be donated.

Sponsored by “Fashion Republic” all donations will be processed and shipped to people in need. Their 30,000 square foot warehouse in Cranford, NJ ship to Poland, Republic of Georgia, Ghana, Liberia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, India, Mali and other locations all over the world.

The GW Elementary School PTO is paid per pound, and all of the proceeds will go toward supporting field trips, school supplies and the GW School Natural Playscape Initiative.

If you would like more information about the clothing drive, please contact PTO Parent Jody Fromson at  [email protected]

Natural Playscape Community Visioning Complete! A Build is Next.


The playground! Photo Credit: Brad Will

The GW Elementary School PTO and the PTO Natural Playscape Committee are pleased to complete the final visioning phase of a Natural Playscape project that is to get underway this year.

Recently, the group met with GW students to finalize their ideas and goals. Last evening, the plans were shared with parents, teacher and the community at large.


L-R: James Shaughnessy, Brad Will and GW PTO Natural Playscape Co-Chair Ann Loeding. Photo Credit: Lori Joseph


Participants included James Shaungnessy, a member of the Board of Education:

“I commend the GW PTO Natural Playscape Committee for imagining a different type of playground and persevering in their effort to make it real. Ms. Loeding said that School Superintendent Dr. Paul Padalino has been supportive, and I thank him for that. GW students have been involved in the design; a good way to teach children to be respectful to others is to be respectful to them. Having them help design their play environment shows respect. GW is my neighborhood school.”

…and Brad Will, Alderman of the 3rd Ward in the City of Kingston:

“It was informative and great to see something coming together. With community involvement, this will happen – and become model for the Kingston school district.”

The group will meet next with the district for approval.


The parking lot. A new vision. Photo Credit: Brad Will

In the meantime, the group has begun to solicit donations of materials and are seeking the following:

Reclaimed wood
Crushed rock
Fencing materials

For more information, contact Ann Loeding:  [email protected]  or  Kelly Storrs: [email protected]


GW PTO Natural Playscape Co-Chair Kelly Storrs (far left). Photo Credit: Lori Joseph

The GW PTO Natural Playscape Committee Organizes Two Design Processes in April.


The GW PTO Natural Playscape Committee Organizes Two Community Design Processes in April. The group will focus on gathering information from the children and teachers on April 11th and request the same from parents, teachers and the midtown community on April 24th.

Kingston, NY – The GW PTO Natural Playscape Committee is ready to begin their community visioning and design process of a new natural playscape area at the George Washington Elementary School located in Midtown, Kingston. Input is requested from the students, teachers and community in the month of April. The information that will be used to build an outdoor classroom on the southeast side of the building and a natural playscape on the site of the existing playground.

On April 11th, a design and visioning session is planned during school hours. This initial step is created for students and teachers. Classrooms will discuss and share which natural elements they would like to incorporate and vote on their top five choices.  The committee will also integrate letters written by the children that were used during the City of Kingston’s Community Development Block Grant process,  a grant award that the group secured last year but due to unforeseen circumstances, were forced to forfeit.

A second visioning session to integrate the ideas of parents, teachers and the midtown community will take place on Thursday, April 24, 2014 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at the GW Elementary School located at 67 Wall Street. Participants will meet in the New Visions classroom on the second floor. Childcare will be provided.

Funding and materials for the project will be provided by the GW PTO and from donations from the Kingston community.

For more information, contact Ann Loeding: [email protected] or Kelly Storrs:  [email protected]  co-chairs of the GW PTO Natural Playscape Committee.


Natural Playscape Committee Meets November 5th, 2013.


Click on image to view Rusty Keeler’s site and to see what is possible!

The first Natural Playscape Committee meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 5th from 5:00pm – 6:30pm.

The group is asked to meet in the yard by the Children’s House, where Tank the Tortoise gets his exercise. There, members will spend 15 minutes and tour the back to the big kids’ playground.

At 5:30pm, the group will meet in the school cafeteria.

If you would like more information or to join the committee, please contact GW Parent Ann Loeding at [email protected]


ON THE NATURAL PLAYSCAPE PROPOSAL/ Community Development Block Grant

– Click to visit this PAGE to view the proposal and budget.

– “Kingston Parents Favor Nature over Ashalt”  HERE

– Letter of Support and BOE Resolution in support of the GW Natural Playscape Project HERE

District Shows Support for Natural Playscape Project and a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Award

The GW Elementary School Natural Playscape Committee, a partnership between the GW Elementary School PTO and the Hudson Valley Montessori Educators recently was awarded $15,000 towards a Natural Playscape project that includes an outdoor classroom and playground enhancements.

We are still awaiting our contracts from the City of Kingston (now almost four months behind schedule). In the meantime, the Kingston City School district has shown its support with a “letter of support” from our Superintendent Dr. Paul Padalino and a resolution that passed unanimously through the Board of Education.

The first GW Elementary School Natural Playscape Committee meeting will occur on Tuesday, November 5th from 5:00pm – 6:30pm in the school cafeteria where we hope to update parents on the state of the grant.   In addition to the $15,000 grant amount, the GW PTO contributed $5,000 to the effort.



Kingston City School District

Board of Education                                                                                       October 16, 2013


Resolution #2013-BOE35

WHEREAS, the George Washington Elementary School PTO Natural Playscape Committee was awarded a $15,000 grant to start a Natural Playscape Project, which is the creation of a natural place where children can play using natural items such as native plants, fallen logs, boulders, rocks and trees; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education believes that the Natural Playscape Project is a wonderful idea and will benefit the students at George Washington Elementary School;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education hereby congratulates the GW Elementary School PTO Natural Playscape Committee on the grant award for this purpose,  supports the Committee’s efforts  and the Natural Playscape Project at GW Elementary School.



Letter for Superintendant




The GW PTO Contributes $5,000 to Natural Playscape Project.


The GW Elementary School PTO has made an end-of-year contribution in the amount of $5,000.00 to its partner the Hudson Valley Montessori Educators for the Natural Playscape Project being planned to begin in September, 2013.  The funds were raised by the GW PTO during the 2012/2013 school year.

In January, the GW PTO created its own Natural Playscape Committee that boasts close to 30 members in partnership with the HVME to apply for a $15,000 grant through the city of Kingston’s Community Development Block Grant. Although their proposal was selected in June, the group is still awaiting word as to when their award will be released (tentatively scheduled in August) so that the group may begin its visioning process with the school community. A build of two locations that include an outdoor classroom and augmentation of the existing playground with natural playscape elements will be organized in the Spring of 2014.

For more information on the Natural Playscape project, visit this LINK or join their FACEBOOK fan page.


The GW Elementary School Natural Playscape Proposal is Awarded CDBG Funding!


We did it!

Members of the GW Elementary School PTO and their Natural Playscape Committee watched this evening as the City of Kingston Common Council passed Resolution #88 of 2013 “approving the FY 2013 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Annual Action Plan”.  It included the GW Elementary School grant proposal in partnership with the Hudson Valley Montessori Educators of $15,000 towards our initial Natural Playscape effort to perform planning and construction for an “outdoor classroom and playground enhancement”.  We are thrilled!

Shortly, our PTO will take its next steps in working with the district and in discussing the hiring of a consultant (where we hope to secure renowned Natural Playscape expert Rusty Keeler of Earthplay). Our consultant work with our community on master planning in September of 2013.  Implementation of our project will take place in the Spring of 2014.

If you are interested in joining our committee, please FRIEND us on Facebook.

More information to follow.

Read our thank you to the council that was submitted this evening posted below.

Congrats to all who participated.  A big victory for the children!


“On behalf of GW Elementary School community I wish to thank the Council for its support and guidance throughout the CDBG process.

If the proposal is awarded this evening because of you, the school will embark on a Natural Playscape process – one that will bring together the entire school and its midtown community.  All will be welcome to attend the Master Planning process that would begin in September of 2013 and a build that will be organized over several weekends in the spring of 2014.

Our PTO, as well as creating a school website, facebook pages and newsletter has also organized a Natural Playscape Committee as part of its structure that currently hosts 20 members. This allows for interested parents with many talents and coming from different ethnic backgrounds to work together on behalf of the children. The effort will create much needed additional outdoor recreation space for our population of about 450 students, provide a stimulating alternative learning environment and offer a new resource for use by other civic and educational groups in the community.

We appreciate the potential opportunity provided by the City of Kingston in helping us to take this important initial step and when we do, we hope that you will join us in the fun.”


GW Elementary School Community/School Garden. Volunteer!



Cindy Muro works with the kids. Planting potatoes!

Today was a beautiful day out at the GW Elementary School Community/Children’s garden.  Led by volunteer Cindy Muro (who is the Greenhouse Manager at Mohonk Mountain House and whose husband is Tom Muro (Mr. Tom)  one of our incredibly dedicated E1 teachers at the school) who gives so much of her  time each week to work with the GW Elementary School children and community. There were up to a dozen children at any given time who were given the opportunity to turn the soil and to do some planting.  The garden hosts ten 10 x 10 foot garden areas, eight of which are used by the community who shares the space with the school. We are very fortunate to have Cindy who has been working on these gardens since the very beginning (created back in 2008/2009).

Two of the garden areas are designated just for the GW Elementary School students, and every Friday at around 1:00pm you can visit to see Cindy and the kids working on their ‘farm’ while lending a hand, too. The gardens are located in the school playground area, so the entire population at our school are exposed to the effort and the bounty.

Cindy is seeking volunteers over the summer, families who may wish to help with the watering and maintenance of the school children’s two gardens in exchange for vegetables.  It’s a great opportunity for your family! 

If you are interested, please contact Cindy by calling:  845/594-5962 or email:  [email protected]


The children plant seedlings along the fence.


Lots of potatoes! Some of the children plant, others fill the boxes with soil in preparation.


Children fill buckets full of mulch.


One of the eight community gardens. This one has a beautiful stone walls and a birdhouse!