A safer, greener place to play

photo by Robert Mohr/STOCK OPTIONS

photo by Robert Mohr/STOCK OPTIONS

The playground at Roosevelt Middle School in East Oakland didn’t always have a smooth surface, planter boxes, or a shiny new playing field. You can probably imagine what it looked like.

the old Roosevelt yard (courtesy photo)

It was transformed by the Oakland Schoolyards Initiative, a partnership between the East Bay Asian Youth Center, The Unity Council and the Oakland school district. Roosevelt’s new principal, Cliff Hong (a former teacher and assistant principal at Edna Brewer Middle School), sent me a photo of its unveiling today.

The outdoor spaces of Garfield Elementary, Urban Promise Academy and the Manzanita schools have undergone similar transformations through the schoolyards initiative. Next on the list? Sankofa Elementary, West Oakland Middle School, Greenleaf Elementary, Barack Obama Academy and Sobrante Park Elementary.

Funding for these projects has come from The California Endowment, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Stewardship Council, City Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan, Home Depot, Oakland Unified School District, and the East Bay Asian Youth Center, according to a description of the project from the East Bay Asian Youth Center.

Roosevelt Middle School. Courtesy photo

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • JN

    I have been a teacher at Roosevelt for 6 years now and the way the students and staff are responding to the new schoolyard is amazing. Students have more pride and ownership of what they feel like is THEIR school. Staff are encouraged as they see some of the hard students we work with out there on the yard having the chance to play like children again when some face decisions adults usually make. This revitalization included among other new changes at the school has breathed new life into our school and we are most thankful for that support for our school and children. Thank you.

  • Doug Styles

    This is my 8th year at Roosevelt and I’ve never been more proud to come to work! I remember sitting in a staff meeting 5 years ago during the planning phase of this project thinking to myself, “This is never going to happen!” Well, it did!!! Thank you to EBAYC and to all of the people that made this amazing project a reality!!

  • On the Fence

    Great news for Roosevelt. Kudos to all involved.

    Although he was not around in the planning phase of this project, I wonder if some of the positive school feelings are a reflection of the new principal, Clifford Hong. He was very dynamic and well regarded at Edna Brewer, from my understanding.

    I’m not trying to usurp the well deserved credit from those who made this project come together, but just curious if there is an overall sense of moving in the right direction due to the leadership changes.

  • Alice Spearman

    One the Fence,
    No the new principal only inherited this.

  • Teacher

    I am so happy for the Roosevelt Community! This is really nice news to read.

    And yet this news of higher morale at one OUSD school makes me think of what a 100-yard football field and new portable classrooms would do for my high school. As it stands, we have a 90-yard football field, lopsided goalposts and a turf that apparently has caused injuries to athletes because it was not build with rubber underneath like most artificial turf fields. Our football team has to get on a bus to go to its “home” games. Few students make it to support the team because they’d have to find transportation to do that.

    While portables have been replaced at schools like Chabot Elementary in Rockridge, surely raising morale there, I am still teaching in a 40-year-old portable classroom with no sunlight, with floors that are uneven and termite infested, and with mold and mildew growing in the ceiling tiles. The money to replace our portables was approved under the same measure as the money to replace Chabot’s. Why is it taking the district years longer to fix schools that are in poorer neighborhoods than it is to fix schools in the wealthiest neighborhoods in Oakland?

    Our federation of small schools has seen up to 176 points in growth on the API since we broke up from Fremont High School in 2003, we are praised for our high quality teachers and teaching practices by our new superintendent, and yet our enrollment has dropped 50 percent. In fact, enrollment has dropped so low that rumor is that we may be closed as a small school next year.

    One can only wonder if some kids opt to go to a school where they can play home football games and not risk injury from the turf. If some kids opt to go to a school where they can enjoy participating in the school spirit of a school with a true home field advantage. If some kids opt to go to a school where they can see sunlight and breathe clean air when they study.

    Could these priorities have something to do with our declining enrollment?

    I just wonder.

  • On The Fence


    Yes, I understood that point. My question was slightly different.