ANNVILLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A new playground at an elementary school in Lebanon County will soon bear the name of a 12-year-old boy who never had the opportunity to be enrolled as a student.
Named Max's Place, the playground will honor Maxwell Schollenberger, a Lebanon County child whose brutal death inspired a wave of community action and remembrance for his life through vigils, rallies and, now, playgrounds.
The structure will be built at Annville Elementary School.
In May of 2020, Schollenberger was found dead in a second-floor bedroom of an Annville home. After an extensive investigation, officials found the boy had been abused and malnourished for years while being locked inside his room.
The boy's father, Scott Schollenberger, and his co-conspirator, Kimberly Maurer, were both found to be responsible for the crime. Scott Schollenberger is serving life in prison without the chance of parole, and Maurer is scheduled to be sentenced on June 1.
Ross Hopple, the principal of Annville Elementary School, says the playground will serve as a way to remember Max Schollenberger's name and connect community members.
"This is really a part of the larger healing process and also an opportunity for us to put a playground in place where we can all remember Max and children can come throughout the day and even on weekends to spend time with their parents," said Hopple.
According to a Facebook post from the Annville-Cleona School District, the playground was made possible, in part, by Dave Arnold, a former Pennsylvania State Senator and Lebanon County District Attorney who died from brain cancer last year.
Current State Sen. Chris Gebhard, who serves Lebanon County along with Dauphin and York, also donated to the project. The combined grant, according the school district's Facebook post, totaled $100,000.
Annville-Cleona School District posted a drawing of the future playground, which will feature a covered play area, a climbing wall and an educational play area.
Officials say the project will be complete in August, ready to welcome students for the 2022-2023 school year.