Playground Project Draws To End

MINSTER — Students at Minster Elementary School will soon have a new playground to enjoy as Phase I of Minster’s playground project is set to be completed next month.

Elementary Principal Leanne Keller said the need for a new playground spurred from the building consolidation.

“The most immediate need and the first goal was to install playground equipment for younger students,” Keller told The Evening Leader. “With the consolidation, this building had been a four through eight building and is now a K through six building.”

To begin planning for the new playground, input was gathered from the students.

“We took a little time to ask our students this year what they really liked from the old playground, and slides and monkey bars are what they responded,” Keller said. “So, the first step is the big toy, and that’s what Phase I is.”

The playground equipment is scheduled to be installed on Sept. 16.

“We’re hoping to have a lot of volunteers for that installation on the 16th,” Keller said, noting anyone interested in volunteering can contact the school for more details.

Keller said she was pleased that organizers were able to meet their goal of getting the equipment installed during the 2012-13 school year.

“Our goal all along when we consolidated buildings was to be able to get that first piece of equipment out for this school year, so I’m very pleased that we’ve had community support and we’ve been able to raise enough funds to get that first big toy out there,” she said.

The first phase of the project was funded through several parties.

“The cost of the toy has been covered through fundraising efforts,” Keller said, noting the Minster Academic Boosters has been the main avenue for fundraising. “The cost of the ground preparation and some of the planning with Garmann/Miller has been split with the village (of Minster).”

The installation of the new playground equipment is just the first phase of the project though, she said. After discussions with an involved Minster parent and Garmann/Miller, the playground area will be expanded to include elements of an outdoor classroom, including an amphitheater, plinko and a garden, among others.

“She really took that and brought it to life,” Keller said of the Minster parent, who spearheaded the efforts for an outdoor learning area. “The two most exciting elements are that it really will allow us to extend learning outdoors and it also has some unique elements that reflect our culture — the culture of Minster, German heritage, the importance of the canal in our history. It has some nice elements like that ... It really does pull in all those possible outdoor learning ideas in the areas of math, science and language arts.”

The remainder of the project will be completed as funds allow, Keller said.

“The first phase will be completed in September, and the second one (phase) will add a hardscape area and a plinko game,” she said. “What we are able to accomplish over time will depend on the funds that we are able to raise over time.”

Keller said she does not expect the project to be too costly, and there are numerous volunteer opportunities to help keep costs for the playground low.

“Some elements of the project offer some nice volunteer opportunities for Eagle Scouts, for student vocational programs, volunteers,” she said, noting anyone interesting in getting involved can contact her.

Keller said she appreciates everyone who has supported the project so far.

“The school is so thankful for all who have provided donations or supported fundraisers for this project,” she said.

A diagram of the plan for the playground is on display at F.J. Stallo Memorial Library, and more information is also available at Wagner’s IGA and at Minster Bank. For more information, to make a donation or to get involved in the project, contact Keller at 419-628-4174.