Beachwood Elementary School students have a new space for outdoor events and activities thanks to soldiers from Fort Lewis’ 5-5 Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Unit, the Beachwood PTA and Clover Park School District’s grounds crew. The “Beachwood Bowl” features a new track that accompanies an existing sports field and bleachers.
A lot of work and collaboration went into creating this wonderful outdoor space for our students and community members,” said Josh Zarling, principal of Beachwood. “In the world of video games and television, having a safe place for students to play and reconnect with nature is essential for their physical and mental well being. Our students, staff and community are very appreciative of the partnership we have with the 5-5 ADA.”
The Beachwood Bowl was the vision of Tom Prentice, former principal of Beachwood who retired in July. Prentice approached the unit with a proposal for the Bowl and worked with LTC Mike Morrissey, Commander of the 5-5 ADA to discuss project plans. The 5-5 ADA recruited help from their sister unit, the 864th Engineers. After the district’s Maintenance and Operations Department cleared the area, the 864th Engineers laid the track. Plans are under way to lay top soil and hydro seed the hillside.
“We believe it is absolutely important to be involved in our community,” said Morrissey. “We felt that sponsoring Beachwood was an excellent way to get involved and our soldiers thoroughly enjoy the partnership.”
The 5-5 ADA, in its second year partnering with Beachwood, plans to have a presence at the school throughout the year. Last year, the soldier volunteers read to students, helped with math and enjoyed recess time with students.
“It’s crucial that our students have a number of positive role models since many of their parents are deployed,” said Zarling. “The 5-5 ADA’s support has had a large impact not only at our students at school, but on the Beachwood community as a whole. After talking with the soldiers, it became clear that they viewed the volunteer work and Beachwood Bowl efforts as very meaningful.”