CHICAGO LAWN — The 845 students that attend Morrill Math & Science Elementary School will have plenty to do during recess now that it has a new basketball court, soccer field and community garden.
The redesigned schoolyard will be unveiled at 1 p.m. Saturday at the school, 6011 S. Rockwell St., by Principal Michael Beyer and community leaders.
"When I first got here four years ago we had this big asphalt lot out here and the kids would play with portable basketball hoops. Before we got portable basketball hoops the boys would use the monkey bars [in the playlot] as a basketball hoop," Beyer said. "Now our kids have an actual basketball rim to shoot balls through."
The Level 3 school once boasted 1,200 students but Beyer said foreclosures have pushed many families out of the neighborhood.
"We lost kids left and right once the housing crisis hit," he added.
Two nonprofits, Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands, assisted the school with the development of its garden, which includes various plants and some vegetables.
"The [renovations] also incorporate landscape features that capture a significant amount of rainfall, helping to keep the city’s water resources clean," said Jeremy Borling, a spokesman for Healthy Schools Campaign.
The brick ground around the garden essentially acts like a sponge because it was built with green infrastructure elements that will help capture storm water and reduce local flooding in the area.
The redesigned schoolyard was funded by Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Department of Water Management and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
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