Bundled under umbrellas or soaking in the rain, nearly 30 parents and Columbia Chamber of Commerce members focused their eyes on a yellow ribbon and a giant pair of scissors.
Clad in gold blazers, Chamber of Commerce goodwill ambassadors officially reopened Columbia Montessori School’s renovated parking lot and playground Friday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This is something that we have been working towards the last several years,” said Angela Reed, the assistant head of the school.
To complete the project, which included a repaved parking lot, new fences and an updated drainage system for the playground, the school board members had to find funding and a contractor.
A desire to mprove security and maintaining the 37-year-old structure prompted the renovations.
“You always want your play area to be safe,” Ted Haeussler, co-chairman of the school’s Building and Grounds Committee, said. “We’ve just im-proved the security here at the front of the building. Not that it needed it, but it’s always nicer to be as secure as you can.”
Along with the new fences, the committee had new gravel, sand and cement curbs added to the play area.
Renovations will start up again in the spring with the addition of playground equipment, new landscaping for the back of the building and a newly remodeled kitchen.
“The environment here was looking a little run-down,” Reed said. The children deserve the best conditions that budget and time and location con-straints will allow, she said.
Although the changes have been discussed for a few years, the construction started just two months ago.
The school created alternative play areas, and teachers used the construction as an educational experience for students.
“The children were really interested,” said Scout Merry, a teacher for the school’s 3- to 5-year-old students. “We just talked about all parts of it. We would walk outside and look at all the different types of machinery.”
The nonprofit school, which specializes in educating children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, used a loan and a grant to fund the $50,000 project. The kitchen renovations will be covered by a grant for about $10,000 from the Boone County Community Trust.
“The biggest advantage is for the younger children,” Merry said. “Their playground is a lot nicer now. The fences are stable. When it rains, they’re not going to have huge puddles they’re going to have to jump over.”