The large United States map just behind Tryon Elementary School has long been a mainstay of daily campus life.
Countless games of State Tag and Find the State have raged across its borders. Parents have walked anxious kids across the map and into school for the first time. Fifth graders have strolled across its colorful corners for the final time on their last day of school.
As Kevin Powell accompanied his children, Brianna and Brandon, across the map and into school, following the same path as his wife, Krystal, did when she was a Tryon Elementary student, Powell began to think about the map in its freshly-painted heyday. He also noticed the large, faded blacktop in the center of the school playground.
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And a project formed in his mind.
“In March or April of last year, it hit me – what if I recreated the map and brought it back to what it used to be?” Powell said. “I asked my wife about it and she thought it was a great idea.”
So Powell and family spent much of last summer transforming the blacktop. They pressure washed and scraped away old paint. They painted a new state map, then added a basketball court and a four square area.
Tryon Elementary unveiled the sparkling new blacktop in late September. On Friday, with the Tryon Elementary student body circling the area, Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene and TES Principal Todd Murphy dedicated the revamped blacktop, displaying a plaque honoring the Powell family and the many area businesses who contributed money and supplies to the project.
“On behalf of Polk County Schools I would like to thank Kevin Powell and his family for the many hours of work and effort, and all the community donors who supported this project,” Greene said. “It is wonderful to have a new map, basketball court and four square area painted on the playground at Tryon Elementary School. I know the children who play there will appreciate and enjoy it for years to come. We are very fortunate to have people like Kevin Powell and local businesses and organizations that are willing to support our students and schools.”
“Words can’t describe how grateful and overwhelmed Tryon Elementary School is with our beautiful new playground map area,” Murphy said. “The project was the idea of Kevin Powell and was completed this summer with the help of his wife, Krystal, and kids, Brianna and Brandon. The project was made possible by the contribution of parents and community partners.
“This project is not only for our students, but for our entire community and our future students and families. This project is just another example of just how supportive and exceptional our school and community is and it builds on the legacy that is Tryon.”
The renovated blacktop has proven a hit with Tryon Elementary students this school year, making the long hours toiling on its overhaul worth it for Powell and family.
“I had no idea it was going to take as long as it did,” said Powell, general manager of the Tryon Daily Bulletin. “Pressure washing paint that had been painted on the blacktop years ago is not the easiest thing to remove. However, I am extremely pleased with how the project turned out.
“It was a long, hot summer last year. We spent many evenings and weekends at the school. However, seeing the kids shooting hoops, playing four square and running around having fun is very gratifying. By having my kids help, maybe it will provide them with inspiration to one day give back to wherever their kids go to school.”
Businesses and individuals who contributed money, time and products for the map project include Penny Insurance, Henson Mulch & More, Village Appraisal Services, the Tryon Daily Bulletin, Kiwanis Club of Tryon, FENCE, Judy and Rick Placak, Edith and David Bond, TD Bank, Partnership for Children, Seasons of Life Home Care, David Blanton and Tryon Mountain Hardware.
Area businesses lending support to the project included:
Edith & David Bond
Judy & Rick Placak
Kiwanis Club of Tryon
Partnership for Children
Seasons of Life Home Care
Tryon Daily Bulletin
Tryon Mountain Hardware
Village Appraisal Services
The project also received “above and beyond” support from:
Amy & Mike Ashworth