Written by Carly Kilroy
Students of the Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School in Seaside Heights got a big surprise today when Queen Latifah stopped by to check out the progress on their new volunteer built playground.
Latifah, whose actual name is Dana Elaine Owens,took a walk around the school, hung out with the students, and got the volunteers all pumped up while filming for her talk show, The Queen Latifah Show.
Students, parents, and teachers all gathered around where Latifah hi-fived all of the volunteers as they paraded into the building site.
“Our residential kids will have an after school activity to go to where they'll be safe," Borough Councilman Tony Vaz said. "It will also provide for those youngsters whose either parents own a summer home or our tourists, they'll be able to use it. So it's another attraction to bring families into our community.”
Today's event not only brought the students together, but it gave parents a time to reflect on how much they appreciate the teachers of Hugh J. Boyd Elementary for coming together for their children right after Hurricane Sandy.
“When the storm hit and the families were scattered all over the place, the teachers went to every single shelter until they found their kids and then they went back and they read to them," parent Donna Lech said. "And then they went back and they did puzzles with them. Some of them who lost their houses too.”
Central Regional schools Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides spent much of last week enlisting volunteers for the three-day playground construction event, which ended this morning.
One of the main sponsors of the project is KaBOOM!, a Washington D.C. based non-profit organization dedicated to building play spaces all across the nation.
“Our mission is to create great play spaces through the participation and leadership of communities. Ultimately, we envision a place to play within walking distance of every child in America," according to the organization's website.
The playground is on the vacant baseball field that sits right next to the school.
Vaz said the entire project came together in about ten days.
“I have to give a lot of credit to, obviously the contractors, but some of our local people who have gone over the line as far as helping. They have done an excellent job,” Vaz said.
Vaz says this won't be the towns last project with KaBOOM!. They plan on collaborating with the organization again in October to building another playground near the CVS pharmacy off of Hiering Avenue.
The damage from the historic storm shuttered the 46-year-old school on Bay Boulevard for the rest of the school year. Students from the school were housed inside Central Regional High School for the remainder of the year.