School Talk: Jackson Elementary unveils its new playground

Editor’s Note: School Talk is an occasional feature that will look at education and parenting issues in South Philly. If you have concerns, ideas, suggested topics or other thoughts about the state of schools and ways to keep improving them, email us at

Weighing in this time is Tom Wyatt, education committee chair for the Passyunk Square Civic Association

A new playground has opened at Jackson Elementary thanks to the help of a wide range of community members and stakeholders.

Pic of ribbon-cutting from Passyunk Square Civic Association's Twitter feed
Pic of ribbon-cutting from Passyunk Square Civic Association’s Twitter feed

The neighborhood had been buzzing for several months before the playground was installed at Jackson, at 12th and Federal streets. The improvements on what had been an asphalt slab included a full-sized basketball court with two hoops, a huge, dome jungle gym and a safe playing surface.

The playground, which cost at least $150,000 to complete, sits between the school and the cemetery on Federal Street.

At the playground’s dedication Sept. 13, rain couldn’t hold back the excitement as dozens of neighbors (young and old) turned out to paint, mulch and beautify the school. Mayor Nutter and 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla attended the event and helped cut the ribbon. Nutter even climbed around the new playground dome with several students like a big kid.

Pic by Tom Wyatt
Pic by Tom Wyatt

The opening of the Jackson playground is the culmination of the generosity and tremendous joint efforts from the community. In May, scores of Passyunk Square neighbors attended a fundraiser hosted by Alterra Property Group and E-built, Inc. held on the rooftop of the nearby Wharton Street Lofts.  Also helping out were the Olitsky Family Foundation (Stephen Olitsky is building the restaurant and apartments at 12th and Morris), Play-In-Between, the Passyunk Square Civic Association and a whole lot of helpful neighbors.

The community involvement, though, doesn’t stop there. Mark your calendars and look out for more information soon about Community Day Part II, planned for the morning of Oct. 25.