The Shade Structure

Hillside's NEW Shade Structure Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on Friday, June 6 2014, the Hillside PTO proudly "cut the ribbon" on the new Shade structure area, complete with a commercial quality metal and laminated wood structure, three large metal thermoplastic tables, three metal thermoplastic benches and a metal thermoplastic trash receptacle. As would be expected with a project of this size, there were many people who contributed to the success of this endeavor.

First, The PTO gives thanks for the money that it took to complete this project. Thanks to everyone who donated to the pledge drive. Thanks also to Hillside parents and PTO’s in the past that started the Shade Structure Fund. Finally, thanks to the Niskayuna Community Foundation who funded The Hillside PTO's grant application for $1000. The Niskayuna Community Foundation, funds programs, services, and scholarships to benefit our town. To learn more, click here.

After the money came the work... By all accounts this project started the year before when Jacquie Gallo and Renae Semione were the PTO Co-Presidents and Stacy Rijssenbeek and Kristen Clemente were Co VP’s of Ways and Means. Thanks to those four women for deciding that the time had come to answer parent requests and plan and install the shade structure.

Enter, Mark Meola, a parent who "just wanted a place to sit and watch his kids play" and who was willing to do something about it. The PTO thanks Mark for his leadership. Over the Summer and into the Fall, Mark led the committee of Tasha Ferguson, Jacquie Gallo, and Susan Polsinelli to select and oversee instillation of the structure. When it came time to pick amenities in the Spring, Kate Pacheco and Stacy Rijssenbeek joined the Committee to help make selections. Thanks to all the committee members for your hard work and dedication!

Thanks to Paul Winters for volunteering his time to stain the Shade Structure and to Mark Esposito for creating a lovely rendering during the winter, so that Hillside families could see a preview of things to come.

The PTO thanks Dr. Fasciglione for being completely supportive and accessible and for all of her input and advice. Thanks to our Hillside maintenance staff- Donn Armstrong, Karen Lasher, and Brian Kent for support and advice. Finally, we are so grateful for the help that we got from the Niskayuna School District Facilities and Operations staff- Jim Dean, helped the project immensely in the fall, and in the Spring, Randy Loring and his team were amazingly responsive and supportive. They did site preparation, drainage, assembly, worked with concrete, poured stone, and quite simply did what it took to get it done for us!

We would not have this beautiful structure without all of the hard work and dedication of the Facilities and Operations Department.

Thank You to all of the dedicated Niskayuna School District personnel and our Hillside volunteers. Without all of the help, this wonderful addition to our playground would not have been possible. Enjoy, and treat these wonderful new assets with care!

Hillside's new shade structure arrived just before the bitterly cold weather. Hillside parent and artist, Mark Esposito was kind enough to create this rendering so that our community can better visualize what the structure will look like in the Spring when the columns are stained and the border and mulch are in place, and when the world turns green again! Thank you Mark!

The shade structure itself was purchased from a commercial manufacturer with over 50 years of experience and has required certified engineering drawings and meets snow load requirements. The roof is 26 gauge metal roofing, and the beams and columns are laminated southern pine (APA/EWS certified) for lasting durability.

When it is warm enough, the columns will be stained to compliment the other equipment on playground. The committee will also be selecting tables, benches and a trash receptacle to complete the project. If you would like to help with the next stage of the shade structure project, please contact the Shade Structure Committee Chairperson Mark Meola at

The PTO would like to thank Mark Meola and the rest of the Committee: Tasha Ferguson, Jacquie Gallo, and Susan Polsinelli, for their work. We would also like to thank Dr. Fasciglione for her input, advice and counsel on placement and throughout the process. We also thank our wonderful building maintenance team for their support and valuable input. Thank you Donn Armstrong, Karen Lasher, and Brian Kent.

Special thanks to Mark Meola, Hillside Parent and volunteer extraordinaire for all of his diligence: collecting bids; working with vendors, the installer, and District personnel; his leadership of the Committee; and for keeping the PTO informed about the progress through reports at monthly PTO meetings.

We would be remiss if we did not also mention the extraordinary help that the Committee received from Jim Dean, Director of Facilities and Operations for the Niskayuna School District and his staff. Jim advised the committee on the Shade Structure placement and drainage, he reviewed contracts and drawings, and he made himself available at all times to answer a myriad of questions. Jim and his staff also prepared the site with drainage pipes and he was at Hillside for the delivery of all materials. Jim was also on-site throughout the instillation to oversee and assist the professional installers. In fact, Jim saved the project from a potentially costly delay when the truck carrying the shade structure arrived a day early!

Without the assistance of dedicated Niskayuna School District personnel and our Hillside volunteers, this wonderful addition to our playground would not have been possible.

Thank you!

Fundraising Update: Hillside PTO is Awarded a $1000 Grant for Playground Benches and Tables by the Niskayuna Community FoundationLast week's announcement of a $1000 grant to the Hillside Elementary School PTO is certainly front page news to all of the families that are looking forward to enjoying the NEW shade structure scheduled to be installed this November. According to the terms detailed by the Niskayuna Community Foundation, in order collect the $1000 in grant money awarded last week, the Hillside community must first raise the rest of the funds for the purchase of the benches and tables. PTO Co-President Jacquie Gallo commented on the grant "We are so grateful and appreciative to the NCF for this generous grant award. It will mean a lot to Hillside and the surrounding community and it helps us meet an important long-term goal."

As we have been reporting in the Backpacker (newsletter), the annual Pledge Drive is going on right now. The PTO urges everyone to contribute to the pledge drive and ask family and friends to help! Let's get our Benches and Tables!! click here to download a pledge form. Click here for more information about the Niskayuna Community Foundation.