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Community Effort Rejuvenates Guy Benjamin

Aug. 6, 2005 –– Thanks to efforts by Guy Benjamin school teachers, parents and members of the Coral Bay Community Council, students will return to a building painted bright, tropical colors and a playground with new equipment.
"It just needed to be done," St. John resident Lori Walden said Saturday when asked why she got involved although her son doesn't attend the school.
She was one of about a dozen people who volunteered, but other similar events saw even bigger groups of people getting the school in shape.
Guy Benjamin paraprofessional Claudine Daniels said that while the efforts will give the students a lift when they return to school in late August, it will also improve the teachers' morale.
She said that thanks to a donation of paint by Paradise Lumber, the doors and picnic tables sport a profusion of colors –– lavender, blue are among them.
The Coral Bay Yacht Club raised $8,500 to buy two new swing sets, a big sliding board and safety surfacing for under and around the equipment.
Sharon Coldren, Coral Bay Community Council president, said the volunteers removed all the old, broken equipment, so the children would have a safe place to play. They also cleaned out several truckloads of debris.
Coldren said the community effort showed the children that "the whole community cared about them,"
She said the organization hopes a business will pay for shipping the equipment from Elizabeth, N. J., to St. John.
"Maybe there's a hotel shipping furniture that would have room," she said.
Coldren said that this was just one of several work days volunteers spent at the school.
Walden, who chairs the Coral Bay Community Council's playground committee, said the group hopes to develop playgrounds at other locations in the Coral Bay area.
"This was a good starter project," Walden said, adding that she now has suppliers on tap and knows the ropes.
While the volunteers are giving the school a new look, they can't solve one problem. Propane is leaking somewhere near the kitchen, creating a safety hazard and leaving its telltale odor in the area.
Teacher Lisa Penn said it's been that way since school closed in June.
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