Hoops a hit for elementary school

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Barranca: New courts officially open

By Jennifer Garcia

They say good things come to those who wait. That could not be more true for students at Barranca Elementary, who on Tuesday finally cut the ribbon on the Legacy Basketball Court Project.


They have been waiting for a new basketball court since last spring, when students in Nicole McGrane’s sixth grade class thought up the idea and began a conversation about what the Parent Teacher Organization does for the school.

The class started talking about how run-down the basketball courts were.

“I told them if they felt that strongly, then they should do something about it,” McGrane said. She never thought the students would actually take action, but that’s just what they did.

Katie Freyer drafted and circulated a petition, on which she gathered 225 signatures from parents, teachers and community members. She then took it to Barranca Elementary Principal Pam Miller and asked if she could present it to the PTO. Once Freyer received permission, the real work began.

George Steinkamp and Andres Maestas got to work on putting together a cost analysis, while Sam Faulk and Ashley Logan focused on providing presentation support.

The students determined that the basketball court needed to be fixed because there was severe concrete damage and Logan got hurt while playing on it. In addition, there was backboard and net damage to the existing hoop. They also wanted to add a new basketball court because they said the existing court got crowded during recess.

The project was started and the group hoped to have it completed by the end of last school year, but because of various issues with the site and with contractors, it did not get completed until the fall.

The problems started when the original contractor pulled out of the project.  The school contractor, under the supervision of Herb McLean, stepped in and took over, to keep the project alive. The issues continued from there.

Drainage at the site was a problem. The school contractor discovered running sprinklers underground. In addition, a nearby hill was causing further drainage issues.

All the problems were dealt with, but by then, the students that put the project in motion had moved on to the middle school and were not able to see it completed while they were at Barranca.

As a result of the changes, the students did not get the court that was originally planned. Instead, they got a better, double court.

“Ms. (Pam) Miller (the Barranca principal) pitched in (with) playground funds to get the court done right,” McGrane said. “We ended up with a much better court.”

Miller said with the previous basketball court, there was not enough room for students to play and it was not built well.

“It took a while and we ran into problems, but we had great support from the (school) board and Dr. Schmidt,” Miller said. “We spent many a day walking the court, making sure it was done right.”

Children took advantage of the warm weather and shot some hoops before and after the ribbon cutting. Parents, teachers, school board members and community members turned out for the event. One of those in attendance was Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt.

“An additional basketball court creates one more opportunity for positive things to do,” Schmidt said. “We always admire the initiative young people take when they want to improve playgrounds.”

A parent at the ceremony said her children use the basketball court frequently.

“Since it’s been put in, my boys in high school, middle school and elementary school gather their friends and play here for three hours on Saturday. The middle school boys get off the bus and come and play here before they go home for the day. It’s been really nice to see the project come to fruition. It’s really nice. It’s been wonderful.”
Outgoing Parent Teacher Organization President Judy Posada credited Miller with pushing the project along and said she’s “such a supportive principal of playground equipment.”