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GF playground named for teacher, past DL resident

Editor's note: Jane (Parker) Perkins was a 1963 graduate of Detroit Lakes High School.

A new playground at Viking Elementary School will bear the name of a beloved physical education teacher who promoted fitness.

Perkins Playground, named after the late Jane Perkins, was dedicated Friday, Sept. 3. Perkins taught physical education at Viking for 23 years, retiring in 2008. Last January, she died from cancer at age 63.

Perkins was an outstanding gym teacher who loved children, Viking principal Roanne Malm told students, teachers, family and friends who gathered at the dedication Friday afternoon. Perkins always came to work enthused about her job and ready to teach.

"I remember her upbeat and positive attitude, every day," Malm said.

Building a new playground was the idea of Dylan and Sally Schauer, who are parents of a Viking Elementary School student.

"They wanted a bigger and better playground for all children and for their daughter, Abby, now a fourth grader," Malm said.

The Cox Park playground, which Viking shares with the Grand Forks Park District, is aging and inaccessible to some children, said Amber Steiner, Viking School PTO president. The access of the new playground, which features bright yellow, red and blue equipment, is lower so all children can play on it, she said.

Viking School students held fundraisers and collected box tops, food labels and change to raise money for the playground. Their earnings, along with about $7,000 in grant money, brought the funding to about $29,000. GameTime, the company from which Viking purchased the playground equipoment, matched the funding.

Naming the playground after Perkins was perfect because she constantly was encouraging children to get involved in physical activity at home, at school and while they were playing, say Malm and Steiner. Perkins started a Walk-to-Win program at Viking, organized intramural sports and took her gym classes outside to play sports.

"She always had been very vocal about children, had to get them out and keep them moving," Steiner said.

Ann Bailey is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald, which is a publication of Forum Communications Co.