Brian Kenney, Principal of Whittier Elementary, hair dyed orange

Whittier Elementary School Principal Brian Kenney sports orange hair following a fundraiser for playground equipment. The class that raised the most money chose to have Kenney dye his hair orange for Halloween.

CLINTON — Eagle Heights Elementary School students are enjoying a new playground, courtesy of its parents and teachers and a lot of fundraising.

Whittier Elementary is on its way but still short of its fundraising goals.

“We have been fundraising solidly for the last two years,” Whittier PTA President Kari White said Tuesday. “We’re going to apply for grants and do the best we can,” she said.

“We’re just doing anything we can. We do restaurant fundraiser nights. We’ve sold candy bars.”

For Whittier Principal Brian Kenney, doing anything he can to raise money included dying his hair orange.

Whittier recently conducted a change drive competition. The class that brought the most money in change would decide what color Kenney would dye his hair.

“The winning class actually decided to dye it orange and make him wear a pumpkin headband,” White said.

Students raised more than $8,000 in coins with the help of a 10% match up to $500 from Citizens First Bank, White said.

“We were really impressed with the change drive,” said White. “We didn’t expect $1,000.”

White isn’t sure how old the Whittier equipment is. “It’s at a point where there’s parts of it that we have to mark off. It’s old. It needs to be redone before it hurts somebody.”

Whittier PTA has a little more than $12,000 for the new playground, White said. The group is accepting donations from individuals, businesses and organizations. Its next fund raiser, beginning soon, is selling coupon cards to local businesses.

The second Monday of every month is Happy Joe’s night for Whittier PTA. The restaurant on South First Street in Clinton gives 20% of its profits from 5-8 p.m. to the PTA for the playground.

The Clinton Community School District is budgeting money to resurface the playgrounds at the elementary schools, said Superintendent Gary DeLacy, but if the schools need to upgrade playground equipment, the PTAs have to pay for it.

The District will pay to pull up the old concrete, grade the playground, install drainage and resurface it, DeLacy said.

Jefferson Elementary was the first school on the district’s list. “That actually was supposed to be done last summer,” DeLacy said. “It got done this summer.

“Jefferson already had equipment, so we just did the surface,” DeLacy said. Jefferson’s equipment was installed when the school opened in 2006.

The district scheduled Eagle Heights for resurfacing this year, and the school raised more than $150,000 to purchase and install inclusive playground equipment that was compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Theirs was more expensive,” said DeLacy. “They have severe and profound students.”

The district plans to resurface Bluff Elementary’s playground in the summer of 2021 and Whittier in the summer of 2022, DeLacy said. Any new playground equipment will have to be installed before the resurfacing.

“Whittier playground, I believe needs some major upgrades. I don’t know the last time that they’ve gotten new playground equipment,” DeLacy said.

Anyone who wishes to donate to Whittier’s playground fund should contact the PTA, White said.

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