Energy company gives Joliet school new athletic equipment
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org September 25, 2011 5:32PM
Principal LaQuita Carter and teacher Garrett Ryan stand with a Woodland School physical education class Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, after the Joliet, Ill., school received athletic equipment from Spark Energy. | Tony Graf~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2011 1:43PM
JOLIET — Fifth-grader Geriah Bush enjoyed the new hula hoops donated to Woodland Elementary School by Spark Energy on Friday afternoon.
As Geriah gave the hoops a spin, there was a spark of excitement throughout Garrett Ryan’s physical education class.
Spark Energy surprised Ryan with donated athletic equipment for his classes. The teacher had submitted a wish list on the website www.iLoveSchools.com.
Spark donated footballs, dodgeballs, hula hoops, a stereo, towels and colorful cones that can be used as boundaries in athletic games.
Laura McGowan and Mary Adduci from Spark Energy were there to make the donation and catch the moment of surprise as they brought the equipment into the gymnasium at the school, 701 Third Ave.
“We at Spark Energy found his letter on iLoveSchools.com and granted his wish to empower his classroom,” Adduci said.
And empower they did. As Geriah gave the hoops a whirl, other students shot baskets and threw around the footballs. It was a Friday afternoon, and the excitement was undeniable.
“Gym class is about to end. Let’s thank them one last time,” Ryan said to his students.
“Thank you!” the class shouted enthusiastically.
Ryan also thanked McGowan and Adduci for the donation and visit.
Ryan was hired along with nine other teachers in the Joliet Grade School District in 2008. Before that time, the district did not have teachers specializing in physical education at the elementary level. Since then, the district has had teachers specializing in both gym and art at that level.
Back in 2008, Woodland received some athletic equipment but has not gotten much since then, amid a difficult national economy.
“Over the years, it kind of wears out and breaks,” Ryan said of the older equipment.
That’s why the donation is so well appreciated. It will replenish the current supply — and supplement it with equipment the school has not had before, Ryan said.
The donated equipment also will help serve a growing enrollment at Woodland. The school has an additional fifth-grade classroom, so there are more physical education students at the school, Principal LaQuita Carter said.
As of Friday, Woodland’s total enrollment was 487, in prekindergarten through fifth grade, Carter said.
Carter posed for photographs with Ryan, Geriah and the other excited students on Friday.
The kids shouted a loud “hula hoop!”