Oakbrook Preparatory School

Oakbrook students help rebuild Cleveland Park

Oakbrook's Interact Club members joined forces with several community groups and leaders to help build a new playground at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg.

Oakbrook's Interact Club members joined forces with several community groups and leaders to help build a new playground at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg. 

The old playground one was torn down in 2011 after a children’s train derailed, killing a 6 year old and injuring more than two dozen others. Oakbrook students said they wanted to get involved so chidren could once again enjoy a playground that was once special to them.

"I can remember going to Cleveland Park as a child and I wanted to be a part of the rebuilding so that more children can have those same memories I have," said junior Sarah Keim, who is also a member of Oakbrook's Student Government and Girls Varsity Basketball.

The students spent several hours at the park building a swing and painting several attractions. Spartanburg Parks and Recreation officials said the playground's design has elements of Spartanburg's history and culture. It features a peach shed, playhouse and Revolutionary War mural. The playground also has other features such as a balance beam, climbing wall, slides, a water wheel, and a swinging platform. 

A play area will be designed for specifically for 2- to 5-year-olds, and another will be designed for 5- to 12-year-olds. After the playground is complete, a fully accessible rubberized play surface will be installed. The playground is expected to open this month.

"We were very happy to be involved in this project," said senior Daniel Stephenson, Interact Club president. 

"It was one small way we could be a part of something really big in the lives of kids and families in Spartanburg."

Oakbrook students contribute to Healing Classrooms program

Oakbrook students partnered with Students Rebuild, a nonprofit organization, to help create safe classrooms for school age children from Syria who are now refugees.

Oakbrook students partnered with Students Rebuild, a nonprofit organization, to help create safe classrooms for school age children from Syria who are now refugees.

Middle and Upper School students spent their Chapel hearing the story of one Syrian student living in a war torn nation. After the program, the students made pinwheels that were given to the Healing Classrooms program, which donated $2 for each one. Oakbrook students made a total of 465 pinwheels, earning $930 towards providing these children a safe and loving classroom.

"We learned of our Biblical response to this crisis - love our neighbors," said Oakbrook's Director of Christian Education Merissa Ramantanin. "With the making of a simple toy, a paper pinwheel, hope for a future is given to other children. We also pray that the Syrian refugee children, in their new classrooms, would hear the everlasting hope that comes through Jesus."

Pinwheel making didn't stop there, the eighth grade students visited lower school classrooms and shared how together they can help even more children.

Since the civil war began, nearly 11 million Syrians have fled their homes. Of those, more than four million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries of Lebanon, Northern Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. According to studentsrebuild.org, nearly six million children have been affected by their country’s civil war and on average, it takes 17 years for most refugees to return home. This means millions of Syrian children will likely spend most—or all—of their childhood as refugees.

The International Rescue Committee partners with schools in crisis zones to create Healing Classrooms—paired with support from parents and the community—so children can recover, grow, develop and learn. Healing Classrooms trains teachers in special techniques to engage conflict-affected children with social-emotional learning opportunities and to create secure, nurturing learning environments. Funds generated by the Challenge will support the IRC’s Healing Classrooms programs which:

  • Equip teachers with skills to create safe, nurturing spaces where children can recover, grow, develop and learn.
  • Create learning environments that provide children with a sense of normalcy, structure and stability to promote their well-being.
  • Provide opportunities for children to build self-esteem and strengthen their interpersonal skills.
  • Lay the groundwork for refugees to eventually return, reintegrate and become peacebuilders in their communities.

Want to learn more about the Healing Classrooms program? Click here.

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