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      Paws for Play

      Big Bay de Noc School is soon to have a bigger and better playground. The "Paws for Play" project will modernize and replace the current playground at the school and open it to the community. The school held a walkathon Thursday to raise money for the project.

      Many teachers and administrators agree that it's long overdue. Second grade teacher Mary Gollakner has been spearheading the project. She used the same playground equipment when she was a student at the school, and now she is on her way to retirement.

      "It's time for it to happen, put it that way. We're in need of it and the board realized that and so that's what we're going ahead and doing," said Gollakner.

      "This equipment really is outdated when you look around other schools," said Assistant Principal Pat Ratkovich.

      Paws for Play is a two-phase project. The first phase raised $125,000 through a sinking fund for the lower elementary students. This walkathon is for phase two which needs an additional $65,000 for the older students. Phase two's money must be raised through donations.

      When completed, the playground will have something for all students, but some of the younger ones are more excited about a new and modern merry-go-round.

      "It's fun because you can sit on it and not actually fall out," said second grader Piper Jones.

      Other students are happy to see equipment like slides and a tire swing.

      "I like how they go around in circles and you get dizzy sometimes. I'm really excited and hope the other kids like it," said third grader Brayden Willour.

      "I'm looking forward to the new slides because the old ones are getting very old and they're going slower," said second grader Katelyn DeKeyser.

      The entire new playground is designed for recreation for all ages and to improve the mind and body of the students. Phase one will be built and ready for the upcoming fall semester. Phase two has no completion date until the money is raised.

      The walkathon raised over $2,500 in pledges and donations. The next fundraiser is a 5K on June 29 at the Garden Mini Mart.