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'Art, Play, Pray': St. Rita's School in Valencia Park opening newly transformed playground

Posted at 9:02 AM, Jan 18, 2024

VALENCIA PARK, San Diego (KGTV) — After three and a half years and over $7 millions, St. Rita's School's new playground finally opens Thursday and there will be a morning ceremony in which Cardinal Robert W. Mcelroy will be bless and officially open the playground.

For students at St. Rita's School, the brand new playground is a dream come true. The kids are getting all the things they know and love, including an athletic field, basketball court, even an art studio and prayer grotto.

The renovation project was named "Art, Play, Pray" by Principal Gina Olsen, who said before the new playground, students were playing on a blacktop, which is why she decided to reimagine the park for her students.

"It all stated with a Photoshop picture that I created saying, 'Who wants to help create a safe space for our kids to play?'" Olsen said. "Kids played on our asphalt parking lot and there were plenty of Band-Aids in stock all the time."

Principal Olsen got donors to help out and was able to put $7.5 million towards the new playground.

St. Rita's students have seen glimpses of their new playground during their Halloween and Christmas events.

However, no one has seen the inside of the art studio yet.

St. Rita's said each part of the new playground aims to educate the "whole child," which is why there are spaces dedicated to foster creativity, self-expression, wholesome physical activities, and reflective prayer.

"It tells the kids especially that they're worth it," Olsen said. "That they are a good investment and that kids in southeast San Diego can do great things and people believe in them."