Highland Educational Foundation works to make an ADA-compliant playground

Pictured clockwise from bottom left are: Attilio CrimiVaroli,Colleen Incorvaia, Heather Welch, Darlene Plavchak, Carole CrimiVaroli, Highland Elementary School Principal Joel Freer, fourth-grader Simon Misel, teaching assistant Debra Maietta and fifth grader Tobias Misel on the swing. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Pictured clockwise from bottom left are: Attilio CrimiVaroli,Colleen Incorvaia, Heather Welch, Darlene Plavchak, Carole CrimiVaroli, Highland Elementary School Principal Joel Freer, fourth-grader Simon Misel, teaching assistant Debra Maietta and fifth grader Tobias Misel on the swing. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

One dinner at Casa Milanese won’t be like the others — at least if the Highland Educational Foundation has anything to do with it. The Snow Ball Dinner on March 9 will go toward making Highland Elementary School’s playground fair and fun for children in wheelchairs or with other disabilities. Parents and educators at the elementary have sought donations to fund the new playground equipment since last year, holding fundraisers like a penny social.

According to Heather Welch, a former school board member, the Highland Educational Foundation was attracted to the project and decided to help because of the progress already made last year by that playground committee.

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“They didn’t raise the whole of the amount of money they had wanted. So with the Highland Educational Foundation, we were looking for an annual event and looking for a project to help better children’s experiences,” she said.

Highland Elementary School’s playground still needs at least $20,000 worth of equipment to let children with a variety of disabilities play with their peers. But one item already installed is a wheelchair-accessible swing.

“We want to integrate it so those children can play with the rest of the kids,” explained Superintendent Deborah Haab. “I don’t believe we’ll get all of that at the Snow Ball [Dinner]. Obviously, we’re hoping to make a big dent in that at the dinner itself and the silent auction.”

Other items that will be installed at the playground include the Aero Glider, which is essentially a giant teeter-totter with a central platform that a child in a wheelchair can wheel into to play with their friends.

Ramps and other accessible equipment are slated to be added as well. Foundation members and the original playground committee hope that kids from nearby towns will benefit from an ADA-compliant playground.

The Snow Ball Dinner will feature a dance and silent auction. It takes place Saturday, March 9 and will run from 7 to 11 p.m.

Beer and wine is included with dinner, but after the meal patrons will be asked to go to the cash bar. Tickets cost $50 per person and $450 for a table of ten.

You can buy tickets by calling the Highland District Office at 691-1014 or get more info by e-mailing highlandeducationalfoundation@gmail.com.

Casa Milanese is located at 692 Route 44-55, in Highland.