Hundreds of Canandaigua Elementary students waited anxiously for their principal to cut the ribbon on their new playground.
"I'm excited. I feel like I'm going to scream," said Joslin Galosolo, a student.
And scream they did. It seemed that's all they could do to keep from bursting with excitement. But this was not the mood back in August, when police say a 12 and 13-year-old set fire to the old playground four weeks before the first day of school. Firefighters say it took only ten minutes for the fire to destroy the playground, melting the slides and plastic canopies.
"I think it was really felt by the student body as a true loss, so I think part of the healing process was to have some input in what was going to take its place," said Mark Lavner, principal.
Students chose from four designs. And this was the winner, equipped with a 12-foot spiral slide, students say this playground is bigger and better.
"It's my last year here, but I'm glad they got it before Thanksgiving," said Missy Turchetti, a student.
Paid for with insurance money, the nearly $80,000 playground has room for expansion. That will be paid for by monies raised by the students. So far, their penny fund-raiser brought in over $1,500.
"Something good can come from something bad. It was a tragic accident in the first place that happened and as a result they have a nice new playground that they're all going to take care of because they made it, it's their playground," said John Polimeni, a Playground Committee member.
And it was a tough lesson of loss the students were forced to learn before classes even began.
"They've learned forgiveness again about that particular incident and what transpired. I think they've learned to interact with each other and work together for the betterment of the school," said Lavner.
The school board also learned a lesson from the fire. In order to prevent another fire from spreading so quickly, the playground floor is now covered with wood mulch and carpeting, instead of rubber chips.