WARREN — A disk swing, castle-style playscape, swings, slides, benches, stand-up spinner and more will soon welcome adventurous children at the Academy of Warren, or AOW, located at 13943 E. Eight Mile Road.
School officials are in the process of building a state-of-the-art playground on the school campus, and are looking for community members, staff and parents to help with the construction. AOW is a K-8 public charter school with 95% of its student body coming from Detroit and the remaining students from Warren and other communities. According to a school press release, the academy is a Title I school and currently does not have a playground or a gymnasium.
The building of the playground is planned for May 17 through June 11. Because of COVID-19, volunteers must wear masks and practice social distancing. Several building staffers have signed up to help, but more volunteers are needed. A playground volunteer form and sponsorship opportunities are available at the AOW website at www.academyof warren.net.
“(The playground) is going to cover a mass area of the parking lot. Everyone is going to have their own assigned duties,” AOW Chief Academic Officer Oronde Kearney said. “The community playground will provide a place for children to explore, be active, have fun and interact with their peers. It also gives them a safe learning environment to develop physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills. We are looking forward to seeing our students expand their horizons through exploration and play.”
The students themselves designed the playground. Last year, staff held an activity called “Design Day” in which the students drew out what their ideal playground would look like. The playground will be built on 5 acres of land. According to a “fact sheet,” students and visitors from Warren will be able to use the playground, which is being built with assistance from Leathers & Associates, which has offices in Ithaca, New York, and Jupiter, Florida.
The project includes the renovation of a 25,000-square-foot fieldhouse dome with a gym and indoor turf field, an outdoor athletic field and an outdoor combination tennis and basketball court. In addition to the playground project, a separate $9.7 million revitalization of the AOW’s campus is planned. The remodeling includes approximately 100,000 square feet of interior updates.
A total of 36 classrooms will undergo renovation to install smartboards, updated furniture, modern teaching equipment and new windows. A state-of-the-art library will include seminar rooms, tutoring offices, a computer lab, an audio-visual studio, family lounge and business center. AOW is partnering with Leathers & Associates, Equity Schools, based in Chicago, and Sachse Construction, located in Detroit, to complete the upgrades.
“This project is very special because we are giving the Academy of Warren students, and the community, a new terrain in which they can release energy and expand their minds,” Richard Murray, president and founder of Equity Schools, said in a prepared statement. “And, we are bringing a supportive community together in order to get it done.”