Perry Elementary receives surprise donation for playground

Submitted photo Back: Aimee Litschi, PTO Treasurer; Kim Swartley, PTO President; Daniel Wolf, Rod & Gun Vice-President; Vicki Strauss, Rod & Gun Financial Secretary; Garry Dieter, Rod & Gun Director; Sue Sholl, Rod & Gun Director; Ed Yost, Rod & Gun Director; Tara Green, PTO President; Sherry Fuhrmann, Rod & Gun Treasurer; Kim Henne, PTO Vice-President; Andrew Raugh, School Board Member; Tricia Engel, PTO Vice-President; Eileen Dougherty, PTO Secretary. Second Row: Tammy Wagner, PTO Secretary; Cheryl Bucheit, PTO Treasurer; Dr. Shawn Gravish, Principal; Kelly Seidel, PTO Member; Jaxon Seidel. Front Row: Elizabeth Seidel, Taylor Swartley, Ava Green, Selena Henne, Gavin Dougherty, Nathan Wagner.

The Strausstown Rod and Gun Club recently donated $4,000 to the Tilden (and Perry) PTO for the Perry Playground that is being planned at the new Perry Elementary Center.

It was a wonderful surprise, said Dr. Shawn Gravish, Perry Elementary Principal. I wasnt expecting it. It came in the mail one day.

As of last week, the playground fund is sitting at approximately $39,000 just $11,000 away from the goal of $50,000 for the desired equipment.

We want to place the order by the end of April, said Gravish as he listed previous and upcoming fundraisers.


Fundraisers include a walkathon, basket bingo by the PTO, a St. Patricks Day dance for the elementary students, candy grams in March and the principals (Gravish and Dr. Shawn Fitzpatrick, Tilden Elementary Center Principal) are currently participating in a Penny War. Though not as competitive as the Hamburg Area Middle School Penny Wars, this war has both principals pulling out the stops creating a fun way to raise money around the school. The students were told that only spare change should be used with their parents permission of course. To make it even more fun for the students, the winning classroom will get either a pizza or ice cream party and the losing party in the war will have a punishment decided on by the other.

A great amount of thought goes into deciding what will be on the playground as well as what the surface will be, though the funds that are being raised are specifically for the equipment.

Its about making sure we have the right kind of equipment, said Gravish. We need equipment that keeps the kids active and moving around.

Gravish opened a powerpoint presentation that had examples of the type of equipment they were hoping to have at the new playground which will not only be for the students at recess, but also for the whole community. A priority is equipment that helps with both leg and upper body strength and is still lower to the ground so that there is a lower risk of injury if a student falls. Examples of desired equipment shows a steady flow of movement from one end to the other with all sorts of fun obstacles that work on developing strength in the lower and upper body.

Another factor is giving the students an outlet during the day as academics have changed over the years and become more vigorous even at the elementary level. Recess time is a learning experience too as it teaches students skills they will need later in life.

Its important for the kids to get out there, said Gravish. The lessons on the playground are important life skills. Playing with others follows to the work environment.

At recess, students learn how to get along with their peers in a different environment than in the classroom. During this time they are also learning how to solve problems, with the help and supervision of adults, which is an important skill as they grow and will have to learn how to solve interpersonal problems outside of the classroom.

I cant thank Tilden PTO enough. The PTO is very supportive and very strong, said Gravish who explained that the Perry PTO is kind of on hiatus at the moment as they are working with Tilden PTO since all of the students are at Tilden this year. He asked people to be open minded with helping out as all the money, regardless of PTO, goes back to the kids and school programs.

The PTO has taken pride in contributing to the school and the kids. They are very hard working, continued Gravish.

Not only can the community help donate to the fund at various businesses in the area as well as by contacting Gravish or the Tilden PTO, but the community will also be a part of the building process as the equipment will be put together during a community build once everything is ready. While the new Perry Elementary Center is important for the school, it is will also be a place for the community to enjoy and so far the community has been excited for the future and helping out anyway possible.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.