Students learn “write way” to secure funds

CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks
Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, talks to students Tuesday afternoon on the new playground equipment at Texico Elementary School.

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Texico Elementary School students have learned the pen is mighty.

A letter-writing campaign undertaken by an elementary class helped secure Texico Elementary a new playground, according to officials.

More than 200 Texico Elementary students tumbled across the tentacles of their bright equipment Monday afternoon. The students converged at the playground to thank New Mexico Sen. Gay Kernan, R.-Hobbs, and others who were instrumental in the playground’s creation.

Texico spent three years planning and lobbying for the playground, according to Texico Schools Superintendent R.L. Richards. State funds for its creation were secured in March and the playground was installed by school staff within two weeks, Texico school officials said.

But it was students in Dianne Davis’ fourth-grade class who wrote letters to Sen. Kernan and Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton, that added steam to the effort. Their campaign was undertaken last year.

Letter-writer Chasity Weems said she learned, “We can write to somebody who cares about it and make a deal.”

“Even if we are just kids, we can get stuff, too,” said letter-writer Gentry Doolittle, a former student of Davis’, now in fifth-grade.

Davis said her former students feel empowered by the letters and the subsequent creation of the playground.

“Sometimes (rural students) don’t feel significant,” Davis said.

“They found even we have a voice,” she said.

The new playground — complete with winding slides and a rock climbing wall — replaces the school’s 54-year-old graying playground, according to Davis.

Monday afternoon students spilled underneath its green slides, across its red railings and underneath its castle-like peaks. In unison, they shouted “thank you” to Kernan, Richards and Dennis Roch, District 9 representative of the New Mexico Public Education Commission.

“It’s the fruit of (the student’s) efforts,” said Kernan, who lobbied for funds for the playground.

“I am especially proud these kids took the time to contact me and express their needs,” she said.

Approximately 226 students attend Texico Elementary School.