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After Fire, School Celebrates New Playground

"This is a special playground," said Bill Bradford, principal at Sixth District Elementary School which lost half its playground over the summer in an arson case that remains unsolved. "Through tragedy came a lot of things to celebrate." The entire school population lined the campus for a ceremony Friday morning celebrating the reopening of the playground which was restored through community efforts, donations, and mostly through the work of Heather Abbott of Gateway College which serves as a partner to the school.

"With your help this playground has become a dream for this school and this community as a whole," Abbott said, thanking the supporters that included Keep Covington Beautiful, the US Navy Sea Bees, Lowe's, Covington Indpendent Public Schools, Gateway College, the City of Covington, former Covington City Commissioner Jerry Stricker, and the Center for Great Neighborhoods. 

Gateway College President Ed Hughes credited Abbott with securing $2,500 from faculty and staff at the college and playing the integral role in ensuring that the damaged playground was able to be replaced after tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Hughes than led the student body at Sixth District in a chant of "thank you" to Abbott. Superintendent Lynda Jackson also asked the students to thank five community members over the weekend for all the help the school got after the fire.

"This community built this playground," Jackson said. The students stuck their names on a large thank-you sign to be placed on the side of the building.

Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper proclaimed Friday to be "Sixth District Maryland Millenium Playground Day" in the city. "This is the most enthusiastic crowd I've ever had for a proclamation," the mayor said. Following a short performance by the Holmes High School band, one student from each grade at the school joined Principal Bradford in cutting the ribbon and reopening their playground.

PHOTO: Bill Bradford and students cut the ribbon at Sixth District's new playground/RCN