The newly fallen snow didn’t stop the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly installed playground at the Osakis Elementary School from happening Wednesday morning.
Although there were no students playing on it, one fifth grader, Robert Kendall, had the honor of cutting the ribbon.
The playground project, at a cost of more than $152,000, includes one preschool playground for ages 2-5 and another for students in grades K-6, along with a small shed for recreational equipment, according to Shad Schmidt, elementary principal.
What is unique about the playground is that it has been designated as a national demonstration site. What this means is that parents can scan a QR code that is listed on a sign in front of the equipment. Once scanned, parents can answer questions, which provides data to the company. The company uses that data to learn how the playground was used and what elements are liked by the students.
Additionally, Schmidt said the new playground will ensure that the school district have an ADA compliant playground with all the necessary specifications and safety standards.
“It’s important that we are providing our students with a safe, inclusive playground,” said Schmidt. “For our students, it’s a new and exciting way to play and get physical activity.”
The playground was in place shortly after school started this fall and Schmidt said the students have been enjoying it and are thankful for the new equipment.
“Superintendent (Randy) Bergquist and the school board made a great commitment to our kids and it’s very appreciated,” said Schmidt, noting that it was also important to recognize the work of previous elementary principals, including Pat Ryan, who during his tenure started fundraising for a playground.
The process of researching playground equipment was started by Schmidt during the 2018-19 school year. He ended up working with a company called Minnesota/Wisconsin Playground and GameTime, which is the manufacturer.
Representatives from both were at the ribbon cutting ceremony Nov. 11. Ron Blake, the Midwest regional business development manager for GameTime and Tim Newgard, the Minnesota rep for Minnesota/Wisconsin Playground were on-hand during the celebration. Newgard is the one who did the installation of the equipment.
“Shad (Schmidt) was great to work with and knew what he wanted,” said Newgard. “We designed the playground with his input and are happy that it will be a national demonstration site.”
Blake thanked Schmidt and the school district for doing the research and for the vision of bringing the playground to life.
He said playgrounds promote health and wellness for students.
“As children play on the playground, there will be years of joy and fun-filled laughter and promotion of health and wellness,” said Blake.