The little school that could. We embrace this apt description of Irving Elementary School. From the first meeting in 2005 until the District 97 Board of Education approved construction on March 19, the Irving Schoolyard Project has been a winner for Oak Park. While the vision was clear, the resources were harder to secure. Thanks to literally hundreds of people, Irving will finally have a new schoolyard this summer.
District 97's board and administrative leadership ensured Irving's environment will be equal to all schools in Oak Park. Their partnership with the park district shows taxing bodies can pool resources for a community asset. In true public/private partnership, the Irving PTO secured 10% of construction costs with generous grants from Oak Park AYSO, Chicago Edge Soccer Club, individual donations and kids' allowances.
Many thanks to the Mann School Student Council, Whole Foods Market, Gloor Realty, Buzz Cafe, Good Heart/Work Smart Foundation and contributors to fundraisers like the Ragnar Relay. Educational grants came from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation to expand the garden and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation for solar panels.
SEOPCO, our tireless advocate, has been there since the beginning. We are grateful for public support from the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, Roosevelt Road Business Association, Wednesday Journal editorials and every D97 school PTO.
Most of all we thank Principal John Hodge and the Irving families, students, teachers and staff who always knew the outside of the school would one day reflect the excellence within.
Irving Schoolyard Project Team
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