Marion Elementary celebrates new playground

Students at Marion Elementary School gave a “cheer out” to everyone who helped make it possible for them to have a new playground. Standing in front of the new playground equipment, the students also gave a big wave thanking the Marion community for all they did.Marion Elementary School students, along with school officials, board members, city officials and volunteers celebrated Thursday, April 20, the de­d­i­cation of new playground equipment.

USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker said the new playground set, costing about $83,000, provides a great opportunity for students.

“Mr. and Mrs. Wasmuth worked hard to make this happen, and a lot of others pitched in, too,” he said.

Justin Wasmuth, MES principal, asked students for a “cheer out” as a way to show their excitement to those who helped make the playground a reality.

“This playground will be here for a lot of years, and will be enjoyed for a long time,” Wasmuth said.

Jeremiah Lange, USD 408 school board member, said he wanted the students to give Jim Christensen a big hand.

“He worked me into the ground every day,” Wasmuth said about Christensen. “I am so excited for you to have this playground and excited to see you play on it.

“It’s a joy to my heart.”

Wasmuth said: “It was about 10 days ago when the playground was all flat with all the rock taken out. (Volunteers) spent more than 22 hours in two days to have what is now up.

“They were tremendous to work with,” he added. “We had great weather in removing a lot of rocks, digging holes and more.

“The people who worked on the playground equipment project cared about this school, this district and this community.”

Thanks were also extended to Hett Construction, Cunningham Recreation, USDA for the grant and the people who help promote the project, Wasmuth added.

Some families and community members bought bricks. Wasmuth said they were planning to lay those out in the next few weeks to create a path to the playground.

“It will also be a great reminder of who helped out as well,” he said. “I think we have one of the best playgrounds around.”

Playground history

Valerie Wasmuth, a member of the Parent Advisory Council, said she believed the previous playground was installed in 1992.

“It was about 25 years old,” she said.

One of the main reasons for replacing the old equipment, Valerie Wasmuth added, was because a lot of rust and general deterioration was showing up.

“It was so old, replacement parts couldn’t be purchased for it,” she said.

Idea grows

At an MES APAC meeting in April 2016, someone suggested the idea of a needing new playground, she said.

After identifying the need for a new play­ground, Valerie Wasmuth began soliciting bids.

“We received five quotes, and met with five different playground companies,” she said. “Cunningham Recreation, who sells Game Time products, provided us with the best design, customer service and best value for our money.”

Unique features

In addition to normal kinds of playground equipment, there are musical instruments in the northeast corner, Valerie Wasmuth said.

“The Merry-Go-All in the northwest corner, as well as the solo-swing with the Zero G chair, were all purchased at the same time with the main equipment,” she sad. “The council was also able to buy new soccer goals and some other equipment that isn’t installed yet.”

Some pieces of equipment are user-friendly for kids with special needs.

The Merry-Go-All, she said, was converted into a disability-inclusive piece with the addition of harnesses that will support a child who needs assistance.

“The Zero G chair is available for children with physical disabilities, or any other child that would enjoy it,” she said.

The musical instruments were added specifically along the sidewalk so a wheelchair can be pushed right up to them and be used by all children, Valerie Wasmuth added.

“We definitely thank USD 408, the city of Marion and surrounding communities for the support we have received to make this project possible for the kids of MES, and those to come in the future.”

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