A small group is trying to make a meaningful change at Santa Fe Middle School — namely to help create a better place for fifth and sixth graders to spend recess.
"Right now all we have out there are a couple of tether balls," said Brenda Thompson, assistant principal of the school.
Out there is a green space between the main building of the school and Broadway, what was once "Santa Fe North" and at one time part of the high school. The building was removed following a bond issue to renovate schools within the district.
Throughout its life as a high school and middle school, there was not a playground on campus. The school is now used as a fifth and sixth grade center — Thompson said it is considered part of the elementary school system in Newton.
The playground available is across the street, in Themian Park. That park is not owned by the school system. The school system is, according to school administrators, expected to maintain the park.
"Themian Park is not sufficient, and not very well maintained," said Stacey Musser, a member of the Santa Fe PTO which is trying to raise funds for an on-campus playground.
There is a fund which was started a few years ago, with a some funding in it. The PTO is roughly 40 percent to goal.
But they are moving slower than Musser would like — in part because the PTO is struggling to find members.
"There are three ladies that are regular and have done a phenomenal job," Thompson said. "… We need more parents. We have great families and great students here."
The PTO has supplied food for parent teacher conferences, hosted book fairs and last weekend put together a basketball tournament as a fund-raiser for the playground equipment.
The target for fund-raising for a new playground is about $10,000.
The school gives students one recess of 15 to 20 minutes in length per day.
"Kids need to by physically active," Musser said. "At fifth and sixth grade they only have one recess break. Kids learn better and act better if they can be physically active."
Donations to the playground project can be made to the Santa Fe PTO by mailing to Santa Fe 5th/6th Center, ATTN: Stacey Musser, 130 W. Broadway, Newton, KS 67114