Jenks Fourth Graders Among First To See Inside 'Gathering Place'

Thursday, May 5th 2016, 10:26 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Thursday, fourth graders from Jenks East Elementary took the first school bus tour of the Gathering Place.

It's halfway through construction, and not many people get to go behind the gates, but the 400 students got a preview of what's ahead.

With so much equipment around, it had to be a driving tour, but the students stayed by the windows and asked lots of questions to Project Manager Jeff Stava about what’s coming.

“Are you certain it will be finished in 2017,” one girl asked.

Others wanted to know how adults could possibly imagine what children would like and how big the park should be.

"That's a great question. We struggled with how big the park should be," Stava said.

The fourth graders did their homework - they all went through a portable theater at school, with images of the many playgrounds, fountains, ponds and swings.

The school bus lumbered through - past the pond, now 22 feet deep, past the new shoreline of the river and the tunnels for Riverside Drive.

On site are the 250 men and women building the $350 million park; but the children see beyond the numbers.

“It's a place for everyone. It's for our community,” the students said.

And their teachers recognize the potential of the park.

“And it's going to be a fun and unique place,” teacher Victoria Perez said.

Teacher Angela Kushnerick said, "And especially since they're bringing education programs. And I think kids and parents will want to take advantage of all the opportunities here."

The visit was short, but no doubt, years from now, the kids will say ‘they saw it first.’

Inside the main work now is building up the terrain for the next three months - raising the level of the park. At the peak, it will be 52 feet higher than it was.