It was my pleasure to take part in today's 4th annual NAESP Community Service Day. I have had the good fortune to participate in all four. I mention that because I think it speaks to the importance of the event and the feeling of accomplishment one gets from taking part. Landscape Structures was again the major sponsor. More than 75 principals put together a magnificent playground structure for Hawthorne Elementary School in Seattle. Some landscaping was also given a facelift during the project.

We began our project by learning about inclusion of special needs children on the playground--an area of emphasis for Landscape Structures. We found out that there is more to inclusion than having the right equipment. Inclusion is also a mental or attitude change. Children with disabilities are often seen as those who can't do what other kids can, but in reality all children can play together regardless of their abilities.

It feels really good to help out a school that might not otherwise be able to have such a wonderful play space. Close to half of those who were a part of the community service project had done so before. There is a lot of camaraderie within the group of volunteers. I have worked with some of the same people from across the United States all four years. Ellen from Iowa has become a good friend and peer because of this service project.

If you are planning on attending future NAESP conferences, I would highly recommend the Community Service Project. It is a great way to start your conference experience while giving back and helping out a fellow principal and the students from his or her school.

One of the things that I really appreciate about the National Conference and Expo is the resulting increase in my "peer group." Through this project and other events, I have gotten to know elementary principals from across the United States. I appreciate the ability to seek their expertise as I find myself in need of advice throughout the school year.

David M. Hanson, elementary principal, Wyndmere Public Schools, North Dakota
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My son attends Hawthorne

My son attends Hawthorne Elementary. Thank you to all who participated, the new structure is wonderful!

Thank you!

My son is in a special-needs class at Hawthorne Elementary. Thank you so much for your amazing contribution to our kids, our school, and our community!

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