Big Woods Elementary Principal Lee Brown (left) receives the school’s prize money from Albertville Premium Outlets’ General Manager Laurie Summerland. At right, a sample of what a Gaga Pit looks like.
Albertville Premium Outlets hosted a School Bucks Program from Nov. 2016-May 2017, where shoppers could turn in receipts from any store in the mall to the mall’s guest services center and earn points for their participating school. Five local schools participated, including three from the St. Michael-Albertville district and two from the Elk River district. Big Woods Elementary sailed to a first place finish in the contest, winning the grand prize of $10,000. Meadowvale Elementary in Elk River finished second and received $5,000.
“We are so happy to support local schools that help our community’s future leaders learn, grow, and succeed,” said Renee Lawler, area director of marketing at Albertville Premium Outlets.
Big Woods Principal, Lee Brown, said the school’s prize money would go toward playground updates. After running into unexpected additional expenses and regulations with their original idea for a designated “tag” area, Brown said they landed on the idea of building two Gaga Pits for students to use.
“It’s kind of like four-square in a little mini hockey arena,” Brown explained. “About 20 kids can play at a time.”
The Gaga Pits will be placed on concrete slabs and will be constructed of composite materials so they are relatively maintenance-free. Brown said the school’s PTO pledged to pay for anything that the $10,000 prize money doesn’t cover. The Gaga Pits will cost about $6,000 and they are working to get a bid for the concrete slabs.
Brown said their goal is to have the project wrapped up by the end of the summer, though she couldn’t guarantee that at this time.
“It was exciting, and a great way for families to support us and we could give it back to the kids,” Brown said.