Friday Harbor Elementary School fundraises for new playground equipment | Update

Friday Harbor Elementary School students, parents and staff are putting in hard work to play.

About a month ago, the school’s climbing dome was removed because authorities deemed it was unsafe. Now, students, staff and the parent-teacher organization are working together to replace the 32-year-old rusted jungle gym.

“Instead of waiting for something major to happen, we got rid of it,” said FHES Principal Diane Ball. “We want to keep the kids safe.”

Filling the playground’s empty space is proving to be anything but child’s play.

First, the PTO is raising $8,500 for new equipment. Then, about seven new designs will be selected by the staff and PTO, which the student council will present to classmates for a vote.

By next school year, the 304 K-5 students will have a new way to stay active and safe at recess.

“Those are things that get a ton of use,” said PTO Co-president Thor Jensen about the equipment. “They are very, very popular, and we want to make sure they are the best and safe as possible.”

The PTO, said Jensen, helps to fund activities like bus rentals for field trips and monthly movies at the school, while the San Juan Island Public School Foundation supports academic needs. Schools also receive funds from local and state education levies and state monies.

“Our schools are woefully underfunded, and the community has always been really great about stepping in to handle these outside-the-box [needs],” he said. “The playground equipment is used so consistently, year round; it’s used in the summer when the school is closed. It’s a big community asset.”

To donate to the fundraiser, visit or