Sun glitters on the shiny playground equipment at Oakley School as anxious kindergarten students patiently wait to be excused from their lunch tables. However, as the first group of students flees for afternoon fun, the red, yellow and blue slides and monkey bars remain untouched. Instead, the kids sprint to their most treasured playground toy, a blue scooter.
The scooter is normally their first choice, said kindergarten teacher Becky Huffaker.
The giddy line of more than a dozen 5-year olds who seek to take a spin on the scooter is longer than normal these days after two scooters were stolen from the kindergarten shed in May.
The only riding toys remaining are one old scooter and two worn tricycles. The scooter is nothing more than metal with a wooden plank for the students to stand on. The remaining rubber on the wheels of the yellow tricycles barely clings to the plastic base as the kids race around, laughing and cheering as they speed along the course.
The kindergarteners smile as they roll around the road painted on the blacktop, which includes a plastic stop sign indicating that it's time for a new rider to take the wheel. But the students wish they had better equipment. They're fun to play with, but the scooter is tippy, said Carina Lazo, 5, referring to the unstable wood and metal scooter.
The Oakley School PTA donated funds to the kindergarten classes so that replacement parts could be purchased for the existing toys, but PTA President Loni Borromeo said she'd like to raise more money so that new equipment can be purchased for the kids.
We were happy to donate the funds to buy new tires and handle bar grips for the equipment they already have, but we want to do more, Borromeo said. I can't believe someone would steal their scooters. It's very upsetting.
Kindergarten teacher Mary Zirkle said no one knows what happened to the stolen scooters, which were regularly locked up in the kindergarten shed located in the kindergarten play area.
They were locked up on a Friday, and when we came back on Monday, the lock was broken and the scooters were gone, Zirkle said. It's not like they were brand-new scooters, either. I don't know why someone would take them.
The PTA is currently accepting monetary donations to purchase new scooters. Borromeo said she is considered holding a scooter drive, but Principal Kathy Kruse said monetary donations are best so that the school can special order new heavy-duty equipment that will withstand many years of play: The kids love those scooters, so we hope to purchase new ones for them to enjoy.
Donations should be sent to Oakley School, 501 Norcross Lane, Oakley, CA 94561. For more information, call 925-625-7050.