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Courting a happy ending

Once upon a time, there was a courtyard at Shaker Road Elementary School, but it had fallen on hard times. The square-shaped patch of tall grass and weeds that was surrounded by the classrooms of Shaker Road needed a makeover.

But between end-of-year exams and preparing for summer break, how would teachers and administrators find the time to transform their ugly duckling courtyard into a vibrant swan?

Poof. As in all good fairy tales, a knight in shining armor appeared John Crisorio Sr.

A training director for Eastern New York Labors Training Center, Crisorio had experience in construction and concrete. He knew the perfect element that would start to make the courtyard a piece of land not only for squirrels and birds, but for the students of Shaker Road as well a concrete path.

But in the two weeks that Crisorio had taken on the roles of path-builder, courtyard-fixer and school hero, he still had to wear the shoes of his most important role of all: a father.

Crisorio's son John Jr. attends Shaker Road, and in his free time, during recess or after school, he would be outside with his dad, helping move stones and getting the ground ready for the concrete to be poured.

The path is just part of a greater plan Elementary School Principal William Dollard said school officials have in mind for the courtyard. They want to fix up the area so that students could have lessons outdoors and guest speakers could lecture in a mini-amphitheater the school plans to build over the summer and use during the school year "when the weather allows it," Dollard said.

Other plans include trimming some branches off a large tree that towers over the rooftop of the school, leaving the higher branches that students cannot reach for and get hurt and refinishing part of the grassy area with gravel and benches for students to sit on when watching performers or speakers in the amphitheater.

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