SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – On Thursday, the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS), Georgia Ports Authority and students cut the ribbon on a new soft play center at Henderson E. Formey School.

The sensory soft play area areas include pillows, cushions, bolsters, wedges and tunnels to encourage exploration, creativity, motor planning and gross motor abilities. It aims to give students the opportunity to have fun with their playmates, helping them develop their language, skills and imagination.

Kurt Hetager, Chief Public Affairs and Administrative Services Officer for SCCPS speaking before the ribbon cutting. (Photo taken by Hollie Lewis)

Kurt Hetager, Chief Public Affairs and Administrative Services Officer for SCCPS, says by the smiles on their faces, it’s clear the kids have a great time in the play area.

“But we know it’s so much more than that, as education begins with our youngest scholars in their very youngest years,” Kurt Hetager added. “It’s moments like this, it’s the things like this that help build the foundational skills that they have to go on and matriculate through our public school system and eventually walk the stage as graduating scholars. The superintendent says over and over, and it is so true, the graduation rate is a pre-K process. It is an early learning process.”

Students listen as school principal Erica Swindell-Foster speaks. (Photo taken by Hollie Lewis)

School Principal Erica Swindell-Foster said, “This indoor play allows our students to have free play, allowing them to explore, experiment, problem solve, socialize and learn how important it is to take turns. All of these skills are needed for them to be able to thrive during their educational careers and well into the workforce.”

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) partnered with SCCPSS to make the play area a reality.

“You guys, someday, are going to be the future of this city, this great city, and we’re hoping that some of you will come work at the Georgia Ports Authority,” said Griff Lynch, Executive Director of the GPA. “Maybe as a crane operator, maybe as an executive director, maybe as somebody who heads up our communications, but we’re so pleased. We really do want to say thank you to you all.”

Children playing on new soft play center after the ribbon cutting. (Photo taken by Hollie Lewis)

Henderson E. Formey School is named after Mr. Henderson E. Formey, Jr., a native of Baxley, who attended school in the Appling County District.

In 1949, he obtained a Social Science degree from Clark College in Atlanta. Immediately after graduating from college, he began his career in education in Coffee County. He taught children by day and U.S. Veterans by night.

Shortly after being married, Formey was inducted into the Armed Forces where he served in Korea and attained the rank of sergeant. He received The Commendation Ribbon with Medal Pendant for Meritorious Service.

Formey returned to teaching where he worked in various counties. He spent four years as a principal in Camden County, then moved to Savannah-Chatham to assume the principalship for John W. Hubert Junior High. He continued his education by receiving a master’s degree and a six-year certificate in Education Administration from Atlanta University and the University of Georgia.