My name is Lily Compton and I started the Cool Things Outside Corporation at The Circle School five years ago, and I’m still the chair of the corporation today. [“Corporations” at The Circle School are like clubs or interest groups. -Editor] I didn’t have a plan back then, I just wanted to have things for the outside of the new campus. It ended up being so much more than that, and today we opened up a four-swing swing set, it got me reflecting on my journey with Cool Things Outside.
This is my last year at The Circle School. I’m sad to say goodbye. This place has shaped me into who I am today. I will never forget it. Just having the freedom to pursue getting a swing set on campus, or anything I’m passionate about is amazing. I feel good knowing I left my mark in such a big way. Honestly, the thought that a small corporation I helped create years ago could turn into the first swing set at The Circle School is still so shocking. I’m grateful to all the Cool Things Outside members for coming along on this crazy journey. Chairing the corporation has taught me a lot, but I think mostly I learned that at The Circle School, you can do almost anything as long as you have the right mindset and you put your heart into it. I hope every student that swings on the swing set knows that.
At first, I remember begging people just to show up to the meetings. And now we have such a strong group of members who all do their parts in helping this dream, the swing set, come to life. Forming the Cool Thing Outside corporation was one of the first things I was inspired to do with my time here at The Circle School. It will always hold a place in my heart. Our progress throughout the years shows what you can do with determination. Our meetings are anything but boring, we are always working hard for something (although we do do our fair share of messing around).
I can’t put into words what Cool Things Outside means to me. But as I sit here trying… I think back to myself when I first saw the swing set installed in the ground, with the exact colors we picked, in the perfect place on campus, right at the edge of the soccer field. I felt an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction knowing the hours of fundraising, hours of discussion at School Meeting (a weekly meeting of staff and students where school governance decisions are made) discussions and submitting motion after motion, chairing meetings, making calls, waiting for excavation permits, digging and spreading mulch, and everything else we did to get the swing set here was worth it.
It was not all perfect: there were times I felt like it would never happen. There were meetings I had to force myself to go to. Setbacks that felt too big to come back from. Sometimes it felt like I should just quit. But we made it. I’m proud that the swing set is here thanks to the beautiful mess that we call the Cool Things Outside Corporation.
I want to thank everyone who donated to the Cool Things Outside corporation over the past five years at the Improv Night in 2019, events at Friendly’s, and otherwise; all of the students and staff who purchased pancakes as part of our in-school fundraising efforts, and my beloved friends and corporation members Nora and Cheyenne. Most of all I want to thank Ann, the staff member who has helped the corporation and been there for me since day one. She is the reason that we have come this far. She helped me write the motion to start the swing set project, and for a while it was just me and Ann trying to figure out how to make this work. The swing set would not be here without any of them. So, thank you for helping our dream come true.
Chair and Founder of Cool Things Outside Corporation