LAKE PLACID - A new outdoor learning space at Lake Placid Elementary School has been dedicated to one of the school's former principals.
Rick Retrosi, who served as principal of this school from 1999 to 2011, was honored during a ceremony Friday evening. He is currently working as the interim principal at the middle school while the district searches for a permanent replacement for former Assistant Principal Dan Mayberry.
The Richard A. Retrosi Outdoor Classroom, located behind the elementary school next to the new Paw Print Park natural playground, was built with support from FRIENDS, a parent-teacher organization that supports LPES, as well as the Uihlein Foundation and donations from the community. Katrina Lussi Kroes, playground project co-chair, said when FRIENDS first presented Retrosi with plans for Paw Print Park, "He saw that we could create a very special place.
Former Lake Placid Elementary School Principal Rick Retrosi, right, and his wife Alicia attend Friday’s dedication ceremony for the new Richard A. Retrosi Outdoor Classroom.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
"Studies show that currently, children spend too much time in front of TVs and video games and are losing creativity," Kroes said. "Studies also show that obesity levels amongst U.S. children are at an all-time high. Rick saw the value in creating a space that would stimulate children's imagination and keep them moving."
Kroes thanked Retrosi for his "unwavering" support of the elementary school and Paw Print Park.
"It's an incredible honor," Retrosi told the Enterprise. "I'm touched beyond belief. I was just one part of a group of visionary people."
Retrosi extended his thanks to the local architects and engineers who helped design the park. He also thanked municipal workers and volunteers who helped put the finishing touches on the park earlier this month.
"I think it took a bold move to really step out of the mold," Retrosi said, adding that it would have been easy for the district to build a traditional, metal playground. "It was worth the effort."
The new, natural playground features slides and other elements built into mounds of dirt and covered by soft, mulch-like wood chips. Kids started using the play space last week.
Following the playground dedication, students, parents and faculty gathered in the school's cafeteria for a harvest dinner.