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Access for ALL Patio

Community Unites to Create an Inclusive Patio at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School
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The Lakeland Central School District is thrilled to announce the successful completion of the Access for ALL Inclusive Patio project at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, a testament to the power of community collaboration.
To celebrate the opening of the space for students, Thomas Jefferson held a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on Wednesday, September 20th at 1:15 p.m. This remarkable endeavor was envisioned by Mr. Christpher Urso, the school’s principal, and made possible by the unwavering dedication of local organizations and over 20 volunteers who generously contributed their time, resources, and passion to enhance the school’s inclusive environment. 

Mr. Urso told us that when he saw the opportunity to turn one of the school’s unused open spaces into a more inclusive space for his students, he asked for help from the District and his community, and had it completed within two months. His vision not only supports students at Thomas Jefferson, but ties directly with Lakeland Central School District's main goals of Inclusion and Equity for All, making it a home-run. “Creating the vision for this inclusive space for our students and having it completed by our community in such a short time frame has been incredible.” Urso said. “We have a strong support system here at Thomas Jefferson, and are forever grateful to the District and community for supporting our students.”   

The Mahopac Leos and Lions clubs independently raised funds for the project, while parents and community members, including Jim Rathschmidt from United for the Troops, spent many hours volunteering their time building the patio. The fifth grade class of 2022 at Thomas Jefferson donated ADA-compliant picnic tables to the school the year prior, which are a perfect fit on the new patio. The dedication and hard work of Principal Urso and the local community will allow all students access to the courtyard for learning, engaging, and enjoying the outdoor space.