Recess gets a makeover

The Baltimore Sun

Federal Hill Preparatory students returned to school this week to find a newly paved play area for basketball, hopscotch and other games.

Baltimore-based contracting company P. Flanigan & Sons resurfaced the play area for the approximately 325 students at School No. 45, which shares space with South Baltimore Recreation Center.

"We've had a dream come true," said Victoria Brown, president of the parent-teacher organization.

Hugh Bethell, the PTO's president-elect, said the group had been trying for three years to raise money for the project.

After getting an initial quote from P. Flanigan & Sons that was out of the organization's price range, Bethell said, the company later surprised the parent-teacher organization with "sweetheart quote" of zero.

Pierce J. Flanigan, president of P. Flanigan, said the project cost about $25,000, but said that "the schools are really important."

City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake thanked Flanigan and his brother, Tom, at a ceremony yesterday.

Schools CEO Andres Alonso said the donation was especially appreciated at a time when "the dollars are getting so hard to find."

Home improvement chain Lowe's Companies Inc. donated $5,000 to replace the basketball court's backboards, hoops and nets.

Brown said the project was chosen by the students in a poll. She described the old court as in "complete disrepair."

"It really wasn't safe," said Sharon VanDyke, the school's principal.

After a couple of days to regrade, pave and add grass, the three-year ambition was fulfilled in the form of a sleek blacktop court.

"I love the new court," said third-grader Jackie Hammett. She said the smooth surface will make riding her scooter and her bike a lot more fun.

The PTO is now looking to add lines to the pavement to create a basketball court and foursquare and hopscotch games.

"It's a lot of fun to build a playground versus the city streets," Pierce Flanigan said.

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