Madison playground honors late dedicated teacher
New playground at Madison Elementary in Everett honors Valerie Dede
Some of the approximately 100 volunteers pose for a photograph Saturday after installing a new playground at Madison Elementary School. The playground was built and dedicated in memory of teacher Valerie Dede, who taught at the school for 24 years and died in June 2011.
Valerie Dede taught at Madison Elementary School in Everett for 24 years and worked in the Everett School District for 42 years. Dede died in June 2011. A new playground at the school was dedicated in her memory on Saturday.
About 100 volunteers built the playground Saturday at Madison Elementary School in honor of Valerie Dede, who died suddenly in June 2011. She was 64.
Dede taught mostly second grade at the school for 24 years and worked in the Everett School District for 42 years.
"She was just a super wonderfully dedicated teacher," said Elaine Reitan, a retired music teacher who worked at the school with Dede. "She was a classroom teacher but she valued very much the music and play and physical education and all those extra opportunities."
Dede reminded people to make time to play, said Sherri Grinage, a literacy specialist at the school at on Pecks Drive. Grinage applied for a $15,000 grant from an organization called Kaboom! in Washington, D.C., to build a new playground at the school shortly after Dede died. The grant was awarded in August with the stipulation that the school fund at least $9,000 for the project and it be completed within a year, Grinage said.
The school hosted fundraisers throughout the school year to raise money. Students, school staff and parents organized and participated in events that included a walkathon and a read-a-thon, a recycling and scrap metal drive, and a gymnastics fundraiser. Kids designed cards that were printed and sold and teachers took part in McTeacher's Night, a McDonalds fundraiser where teachers worked shifts to earn a percentage of sales for their school.
"It was a constant all-year thing," Grinage said.
The combined efforts as well as a $5,000 donation from Rotary Club of Everett raised $31,000, Grinage said. On Saturday, adult volunteers worked throughout the day to fix playground structures that had been vandalized and install new equipment. Children, who were not allowed near the playground during the work, played games and did activities such as making stepping stones for their new playground and thank-you cards for the volunteers.
On Monday, students had the chance to use the playground after a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting. The school plans to add a sign to the site that reads, "Take Time to Play!" and notes that the playground was built in memory of Valerie Dede.
The new playground is a fitting memorial to her friend, Reitan said. "It's a wonderful tribute," she said. "It looks wonderful."
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; email@example.com.
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