Madeleine School photo
Children enjoy playground at The Madeleine.
Madeleine School photo
Children enjoy playground at The Madeleine.
In the fall of 2009, The Madeleine School’s kindergarten class roster included one of the most physically diverse groups of students in the school’s 100 year history.

Father Mike Biewend, the pastor, along with Principal Susan Steele and kindergarten teacher Leigh Ann Schneider, welcomed two children with cerebral palsy and one child with Down’s Syndrome into the classroom.

Over the last two years the school has made minor adjustments to make life a little easier for them to maneuver the halls and travel from their homeroom class to art, music and the library. Staff also found that outside the classroom, during morning and lunch recess, students were having a difficult time socializing because of the lack of accessible playground equipment. “Hearing your child tell you she ‘watched’ her friends at recess as they played on the structures, while she merely observed, is not only heartbreaking but a strong motivation to make a change,” say Kevin and Kelsi O’Connor, parents of now second grader, Helena.

A surprise donation from Marietta DeBruhl, a former Madeleine School teacher and vice principal, helped launch the community into action and begin the multi-phase “Playground for All Players” project.

Phases I and II of the project include making additions and modifications to the current play structures including two new sets of stairs, a lowered basketball hoop, and an enclosed merry-go-round that will allow multiple children of all abilities to play at the same time. Phase III will remove the current bark chip ground cover and add an ADA-compliant solid surface that will give children in wheelchairs the ability to access the play equipment. The cost of the project is $100,000. With support from school parents and The Madeleine Parish, $26,000 has already been raised.

The school is now reaching out to foundations and the broader community for support. The play structures, as well as the artificial turf soccer field, are open to the public after school hours, on the weekends and during holiday breaks.

Staff stress that the additions to the playground are for all children in Northeast Portland.

“All are welcome” is the last sentence of The Madeleine School’s mission statement.

The Madeleine School
3240 NE 23rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97212
Grades - K-8
Enrollment – 252
Tution- $4,800 for parishioners, $4,800 for Catholics and $6,360 for others. Financial aid available.
Open enrollment begins Feb. 7
Weekly Mass, full-day kindergarten, after-school care, music, art, science, physical education, Spanish
Open house events: Information night, Feb. 6, 7 p.m. Family tours, Feb. 7, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.