Beginning in 2016, the Rafael Hernández 7th grade class began an in-depth project to advocate for a new schoolyard at our school to replace our mostly broken, 17-year-old park. The students conducted research with our student body, visited playgrounds for examples of parks, surveyed families, and met with architects and planners.
Check out the video they made documenting the project:
The project carried over into the students’ 8th-grade year. The designs that they created with a team of architects included new rubber surfaces to replace our woodchips, new play structures to replace our broken slides and climbing areas, better use of our space, an outdoor classroom (thanks to a grant from Boston Water & Sewer), and a soccer field with artificial turf for our students and community:
Then their advocacy work began in earnest. The students met with City Councilors, BPS officials, and community members to make their case for a new schoolyard. They wrote letters, talked with friends, communicated with local businesses, and made phone calls and presentations.
In short, they were amazing community leaders — and upon graduation in June of 2017, they knew they were leaving our school an incredible legacy gift of an updated schoolyard that would transform our outdoor space.
We could not have been happier when our schoolyard opened to our students and community in November of 2017. It is amazing!