By Heather Erickson

Undaunted by pink slips, talks of school closure, and foul weather, the Alexander Elementary School staff, students and community members labored together once again to improve their town’s school.

Their task this time was to bring their school playground equipment and surroundings up to code.

Loads of sand, supplies, and machinery were donated and the crew worked all weekend; in the pouring rain on Saturday and in the hot sun on Sunday to make the playground safer for the AES students.

School chef and Parent Teacher Group Secretary/Treasurer BJ Wallace, organized the effort. She made countless calls to gather the materials and volunteers, then set aside the weekend to go to work.

Six-inch holes, the size of large swimming pools were dug under all of the equipment. The holes were then lined with black landscaping plastic to prevent the weeds from popping through. The crews then filled the holes with mulch.

When the project was complete, Wallace laid down her rake, jumped up on the monkey bars and swung with the kids for a few. She yelled from the top, "This feels just like the good ole’ days, only safer." Wallace jumped off into the soft bed of mulch, then headed to work in the kitchen where she cooked donated pizzas to feed the hungry crew.
"This is a project that had to be done eventually. I’m so thrilled that the community came together once again for a worthy cause. The students will now have a safer playground and because my children attend this school, this makes me a consistently satisfied parent. It was well worth the weekend," said Wallace.

Wallace said the following donated time or supplies: Chips Trucking Firm, Georgia-Pacific, Ace Hardware, George Grant of Grant’s Greenhouse, Don and Michele Clarke of Four Seasons Landscaping, Fred Wallace of Wallace’s Construction, Phil Clark, Linda Renaud, Tim and Carla Jundt, Joe and B.J. Wallace, Lynn Silk, Hulme Thompson, Susan Wallace, and Larry Lord.

"On behalf of the staff at AES, I wish to thank the parents, community volunteers, and area businesses from Crawford, Alexander, Baileyville and Calais for contributing or participating in this wonderful venture," said teacher Linda Renaud.

Due to cutbacks in the state budget and declining student enrollment, the staff was notified that the school might not open this fall. They were given their pink slips, or notices of possible layoffs, in March. The staff, students and community members have since rallied for support and refuse to accept that their small town school, the focus of this close-knit community, will ever shut down.

A town meeting is scheduled for June 25th, to vote on the school budget.
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