Hancock, Jessup celebrate opening new SPARK playgrounds

Hancock, Jessup celebrate opening new SPARK playgrounds
Posted on 11/17/2017
Hancock, Jessup celebrate opening new SPARK playgrounds

SPARK Park

Students show their love for the new SPARK playground. Pictured (from left to right): Hancock Elementary students Gabriella Anowey, Gia An Nguyen, Aniya Hardy, Sophia Ochoa, Savannah Gomez, Miia Soto, Brian Martin, Camron Robertson.


By Reesha Brown
PISD Communications
#PISDNews

Students and staff at both Hancock Elementary and Jessup Elementary celebrated the opening of their brand-new state-of-the-art Spark Park, a project that has been years in the making.

Joined by representatives from the U.S. Congress, Texas State Senate, Houston City Council, Pasadena ISD administration, and South Houston High School, both schools marked the special occasion through student performances, a presentation of certificates by the Spark committee and a reception.

“We are so appreciative of the donors, the schools, and how hard the principals and staff have worked to make this a reality for our students,” Dr. DeeAnn Powell, Pasadena ISD superintendent said. “We’re looking forward to seeing the thousands and thousands of children take advantage of the new parks.”

Hancock and Jessup are among seven in the Houston area that participated in SPARK (School Park) Week, Nov. 13-17, which celebrates the transformation of public school grounds into neighborhood parks – a cooperative venture involving the City of Houston, Harris County, Pasadena ISD, campus parent-teacher groups and the community.

Each park is unique, with its designs based on the ideas and needs of each school and the surrounding neighborhoods. A typical park consists of modular playground equipment, a walking trail, picnic tables, trees, an outdoor classroom, and a public art component. The new structures include musical components, rock climbing, a seat wall and multiple slides. Several trees were planted around the parks to incorporate nature into the students’ playtime.

The park at Jessup also features a new public art mosaic mural, designed by artist Rose Toro in collaboration with Jessup and South Houston HS art teachers Nataly Quiroga and Cristin Hlinak.

“This mural means so much to Jessup and South Houston students because the mascots from both campuses are depicted in the artwork,” said Jennifer Chavez, Jessup assistant principal.

“The significance is really important to me and the kids at our school because it shows an Eagle (Jessup mascot) heading toward a South Houston High School Trojan who is holding a diploma,” Jessup Principal Ryan Pavone said.  “We’re connecting what you are doing here to the end of your high school career. The Eagle represents how our students are going to soar to success from now until high school and beyond.”

Jessup’s SPARK project cost roughly $170,000, of which $150,000 was made possible from a grant by the Kinder Foundation and Houston Endowment, along with $19,500 from campus-teacher funds and the school’s budget.

The total cost of the Hancock project was $140,000, of which $130,000 was also made possible through a grant award by the Kinder Foundation and Houston Endowment. The Hancock community raised $10,000 for the park fund by selling chocolate, t-shirts and concessions at school dances, hosting a trunk-or-treat night and a STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics) event.

“This was truly a group effort by the community and all of the departments in our school district,” Dr. Rhonda Parmer, Assoc. superintendent said. “There is research that is decades old that talks about the correlation between playing and brain research. Thank goodness our teachers and principals support that.”

In honor of the Spark Park dedication ceremony, State Rep. Garnet Coleman’s office presented state flags to both school principals that have been flown over the Texas Capitol. Congressman Gene Green’s office also presented a U.S. flag to that was flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. 

SPARK Park_Hancock

Hancock Elementary recently celebrated the opening of their brand-new SPARK playground. Pictured (from left to right): Kathleen Ownby, SPARK School Park executive director; Mark Lee, SPARK board president; Derek Gillard, director of PISD Purchasing; Dr. DeeAnn Powell, Pasadena ISD superintendent; Dr. Rhonda Parmer, PISD associate superintendent of campus development; Betsy Vernier, VP of Sales at McKenna Contracting; Israel Grinberg, PISD Facilities Contractor; Misty Harrison, a former Hancock Elementary nurse; Pam Tevis, Pasadena ISD health and P.E. coordinator; Amber MacNeish, health and P.E. specialist; Dr. Karen Hickman, Pasadena ISD deputy superintendent; and Veronical Sandoval, Hancock principal. (front row) Hancock students Davien Sanni-Thomas, Gizelle Torres, Maverick Deleon, Lauren Penaflor, Mykaela Cantu and Kaleb Okeke.

SPARK Park

Jessup Elementary community, along with various leaders across greater Houston, gather to welcome their new SPARK playground to the neighborhood. Pictured: (back row): Pastor Richard Vega, CT Church; John Coody, PISD Facilities and Construction; Kevin Lankford, Jessup assistant principal, Marlon Connley, SPARK Park; Austin Werner, SPARK treasurer; Guy Hagstette, Kinder Foundation; Kathleen Ownby, SPARK School Park executive director; Susan Sample, board member; Ryan Pavone, Jessup Elementary principal; Dr. Rhonda Parmer, PISD associate superintendent of campus development; Rose Tor; Derek Gillard, director of PISD Purchasing; Amber MacNeish, health and P.E. specialist; and Jorge Maldonado, community liaison for Congressman Gene Green. Second row from left to right: Irene Rodriguez, former PTA; Cindy Trujillo, former PTA; Betsy Vernier, McKenna Contracting; Evelyn Lopez, former PTA; Jennifer Chavez, Jessup assistant principal, and Mark Lee, SPARK Park board member; (kneeling) Annie Sargent, Jessup kindergarten teacher. Front row: Daniel, Jace, Kayden, Jordan, Theseus, Brooklyn, Lily, Lilyana, Miracle, and Alan.