“Five years ago, our students came to us and said, ‘We want
to play soccer at our school,’” said Palo Verde Middle School Principal Jill
Prior to Tuesday afternoon, that was never possible as the field at Palo Verde had been deemed unsafe for competitive soccer due to numerous ruts and berms, little to no grass and inadequate lighting—among other safety related issues. That forced the Panthers to hold both their practices and their games at a nearby public park where concerns over individuals and questionable behavior in and around the park were often raised.
In 2011, as the Palo Verde student council began raising money to go toward field improvements, the community started to take notice of their efforts. Volunteers made up of teachers, students, parents, community members, business and faith partners spent countless after-school and work hours working collaboratively on the field.
“We had volunteers come in with a front loader to start leveling the field while others tore down old, dilapidated bleachers and backstops,” Sarraino said. “Then, the following year, we had college students come out and start aerating the field using some of their own money. Even more people took notice, and with so much additional help and support from the community and the District, here we are today. We never could have done this without our community volunteers.”
The new field was officially dedicated on Tuesday afternoon at a ribbon cutting event ahead of the inaugural girl's soccer game between the Panthers and the Desert Foothills Scorpions. In attendance were past and present students, staff, and parents as well as WESD administrators and Governing Board members.
“When our students step foot on this campus, there is a sense of pride and ownership because they have taken part in the activities and/or improvements at our school,” Sarraino said.