Kid SAFE makes huge donation to Park

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The curtain will rise (and lower) on a new era at Park Elementary starting in September.

This summer a curtain will be installed in the school's gymnasium. The curtain will cost more than $7,000 to purchase and install and will be paid for by Kid SAFE, the after-school program that operates at Park. Kid SAFE administrator Virginia Diebold and Carolyn Zilinski, the chair of the board of directors and a Park parent, presented a check to Park principal Monica Schommer this week.

Schommer said the retractable curtain hasn't been picked out but is likely to be dark red or maroon to match the school's primary color.

Kid SAFE has operated the after-school program for a number of years at Park. There is a waiting list of nearly 100 students who want to join the program, Diebold said, but state law dictated that a partition be installed to separate the area into two spaces.

By taking the single-section gym gym and partitioning it into two parts the state licensing board said the program could take on additional students. The curtain will serve that purpose, Zilinski said.

Park officials saw it as a great opportunity, too. Next year it is likely there will need to be split sections of physical education, which makes a curtain imperative when students can't be outdoors, Schommer said. The school also uses the area for lunch and the curtain may allow gym classes to start earlier.

"I thought it was a great idea,'' Schommer said. "Anything that can benefit both Kid SAFE and Park is a win-win!''

Zilinski said the donation wouldn't have been possible without Diebold's efforts. The program costs $13 a day for a single child or $11 for more than one child. Diebold has found inexpensive crafts and snacks, which has also allowed the organization to save money and keep costs down.

"Affordable after-school care is a critical need in the village of Cross Plains,'' Zilinski said. "This is a sizable donation for a small charitable program to make. The Kid Safe board thought it was the right thing to do. This will benefit us, the children in our program and all of the Park students.''

Schommer has also been very impressed with Diebold and the Kid SAFE program.

"Virginia and I have worked very closely over the past two years. It's been a pleasure having her and Kid SAFE at Park,'' Schommer said. "We have families who don't worry about where their child is going after school since Kid SAFE is housed right in our building. It's good care, in a great location, at a (more than) reasonable price. Families feel good about having their children under Virginia's care and we do, too.'

"I really enjoy Virginia and she has such a big heart. She keeps children at the center of her work and really relates well to them. I've seen other in-school day-cares and this one is absolutely wonderful. I feel so fortunate to have such good care under my roof at Park.''

Kid SAFE's plan for the next five years?

"I would love to continue to keep Kid SAFE located at Park, keep it affordable, and potentially expand it to a size that accommodates more children, but still allows Virginia and her staff to treat the children like individuals,'' Zilinski said. "Virginia and her staff work very hard to provide high-quality care to our children, and I know Mrs. Schommer recognizes what a treasure they are!''