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BTE Foundation
1539 Jackson Avenue Suite 201B
New Orleans, LA 70130

Better Than Ezra Foundation Breaks Ground on
Bethune Elementary Playground

NEW ORLEANS, LA — Embracing a love of learning and the city’s next generation of bright stars, Better Than Ezra Foundation breaks ground on playground geared toward Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten for Bethune Elementary in Orleans Parish on February 5th, 2011. The band, board members, members of the local community, as well as music and education lovers, will all come together to volunteer with the build. Seeing the need to reward and enhance the hard work,thriving test scores and spirits of the students and faculty of Bethune Elementary, the Foundation saw the green playground, designed and manufactured by Planet Recess as a crucial next step in their community rebuilding efforts.

Bethune Elementary is located in the Hollygrove neighborhood that is still struggling post- Katrina with many homes still vacant from the storm. The faculty’s support of the students and their families extends beyond the classroom and into their everyday lives epitomizing the definition of community building for the next generation. Test scores continue to skyrocket, and testify to the effects of their love of learning and stability found under harsh conditions.

While a playground catering to older children exists for the students, the Foundation working closely with the school, identified a need for the younger kids specifically Pre-K and K students and tailored the space to their educational needs.

“We were really inspired and impressed by the hard work and excitement of the kids, the teachers, and principal Mary-Haynes Smith,” says Kevin Griffin, lead singer of rock band Better Than Ezra. “We felt it was important to have educational features built into the playground such as an interactive music learning and math stations.”

The green design of the playground educates the children on the impact of their carbon footprint, increases exercise, engagement and confidence. The music learning station, a major highlight, inspires little rock stars, with standing drums, bell, horn and chime panels as well as state-of-the-art “kid powered” energy panels featuring rhythm spinners and animal tunes. Kids can embrace their inner archaeologist, with a rock climbing wall featuring raised dinosaur bones and dinosaurs for increased physical activity and crayon rubbings. Additional features include math learning panels, a playhouse and trike path complete with traffic signs and a gas station, a sand and water table, and several slides.

“It’s been incredible to see individuals and businesses coming out to support the Better Than Ezra Foundation and help us raise funds for those in need like Bethune Elementary,” says Tom Drummond of Better Than Ezra. “Ochsner, AT&T Louisiana and Harrah’s New Orleans have been key players helping out since our inception and Woody Koppel with the Orleans Parish School Board has been with us every step of the way on planning this build. We couldn’t do it without them.”

“We are very fortunate to have the foundation, community and businesses work together to help Bethune Elementary in providing an education playground for our young students,” says Darryl Kilbert, Superintendent of Orleans Parish Public Schools.