During this difficult 2020 year, we just wanted to share some good things happening in Forsyth County! This article was written by Nicole Hale of the Sawnee Elementary PTO.

With so many restrictions and new protocols, classes stay in their individual classrooms for the majority of their day, that is except for those glorious minutes that they spend outside for RECESS. Recess this year has had to be very different- classes have been spread out to maintain distancing requirements and our students were assigned to specific areas and rotated to accommodate all classes. At times, this meant that a class would be assigned to a “Black Top Area” which is just the area where the buses park.

Our students would bring sidewalk chalk and bubbles and after the first couple of weeks we would often hear how bored the kids were on the black top, so we, as a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), felt that we needed to do something for the teachers and the kids to be able to make the most of their time outside, we did some research and found great ideas to improve this area making it creative, outdoor play.

We met with Andy, owner of The Wall Nut, a local North Georgia artist, who saw our vision for the outdoor space and was willing to work within our budget. For three weekends (and some late evenings) he would come to the school grounds and work on our project. Each Monday, the kids would come to school so excited to see the new addition to the black top.

The Wall Nut created 2 Activity courses (one large, one small), 2 hopscotches (one designed like a rocket ship and the other a flower), 2 four square centers, 1 large alphabet snake, and a chutes and ladders game. Our principal, Mr. Derrick Hershey even made a video of himself (a little out of breath!) completing one of the activity courses- the video quickly went viral! If you need a smile, watch this video of principal Derrick Hershey – https://www.facebook.com/SawneeES/videos/623087475053740

The Black Top areas are now coveted spots to have a class be assigned for recess at Sawnee Elementary! Teaming with our local artist, The Wall Nut, has been a highlight of the year. We could not do this without the help and support from our Sawnee families and local businesses in the Cumming Area. We have teamed together with many local restaurants such as Pizzeria Azzurri, Cheeky, Papa Johns, The Village Burger, Marcos and many others to celebrate spirit night by participating in #TakeOutTuesdays. We have been blown away by the enthusiasm and support from all our local Forsyth friends, so much that, our entire calendar year filled up in a few short days!

Last year, we installed a literacy track in one of our empty fields and named it “Sawnee Valley”. In our hopes to expand outdoor space for our school we are hoping to build onto Sawnee Valley by adding a pavilion for teachers and students to be able to enjoy outdoor learning time in the near future.