GSES students to help design own playground |

GSES students to help design own playground

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Students at Glenwood Springs Elementary School will have a hand in converting a swath of asphalt on the north side of the school building into a new, more natural-looking playground.The school is partnering with the design firm Leathers & Associates of Ithaca, N.Y., to put the playground design on paper.But it’s the students themselves who will have the most influence when it comes to the various features to be included as part of the new playground.”Maybe some ladders, and a big castle. And a trampoline,” said Jacqueline Ashmore, a member of the Downtown Playground Council, a group of third-grade students who are leading the effort.”We need some new monkey bars, too,” Ashmore said. “I saw a girl this morning who got some paint splinters from the old one.””A treehouse, and a zipline,” chimed in fellow student William Berkheimer. “And lots of big things to jump up and down on.”And, added Isabella Nevin, “I’d like to have more trees and grass, and a good place to run around.”The goal of the GSES Playground Revival project is to build the new playground and reclaim some of the old asphalt area with new landscaping in spring 2013, said first-grade teacher and project co-director Michelle McReynolds.A GSES alumna, McReynolds teaches in the same classroom where she went to first grade herself in the mid-1990s. And not much has changed with the old playground since then.”That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this project,” she said. “It’s a great school, but the playground really needs some upgrades.”Project co-director Eric Lundin also grew up in Glenwood Springs and went to GSES. He is now a student in Colorado Mountain College’s sustainability studies bachelor degree program.He took on the playground project for his community service project for a class in ethics and social responsibility that he took last semester.”There used to be a cottonwood tree over there,” Lundin said, pointing to the western edge of the school property. “But it’s gone now, and it’s just this big open asphalt area.”We really need to get some more natural features out here, and I see this as a downtown park, not just a playground for the school,” he said. “And I would love to get as many alumni involved as possible to help with the project.”A design consultant from Leathers & Associates will be at the school on May 18 to meet with each of the classes, kindergarten through fifth grade, and gather the students’ input.At 4:30 that evening, community members will be invited to view the sketches and give their feedback.A fundraising campaign to come up with $100,000 for the playground project will also kick off in earnest that night.”We’ll have the sketches up for people to see, and we will be giving away a bike that we had donated,” McReynolds said. “We really want to get the community’s support, and get their ideas also.”Last year, Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale completed its playground project, which started with the same student-design process facilitated by a Leathers & Associates designer.Once the funding is in place to buy the equipment, the other major component of the project is to line up as many community volunteers as possible to actually build the playground.In Carbondale, hundreds of volunteers spent a weekend last spring to build the CRES playground.The GSES project coordinators hope to generate the same level of participation among Glenwood Springs parents and community members.”We need volunteers in all aspects, from small jobs to big,” McReynolds said.To learn more about the project and to get involved, check out the GSES Playground Revival page on

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