Sopris Elementary students design their own playground |

Sopris Elementary students design their own playground

Sopris Elementary fifth-graders and playground committee members Kate Simpson and Nate Grosscup explain the design.
Will Grandbois / Post Independent |

Sopris Elementary School is inviting the community to check out the school’s design for a new playground as part of its open house tonight.

Staff and student members of the SES Playground Committee will be on hand at 6:30 p.m. to share their vision for a major overhaul that would improve drainage, enhance safety and provide better access for disabled students.

The plan was put together by Land Design Studio based on the results of a schoolwide survey conducted by students.

“We thought about things kids might want, looking online for ideas, and then put it all in a survey,” explained fifth-grader Nate Grosscup.

Students particularly liked the idea of a zip line, a maze or an archery range, although the last was deemed impractical.

“We honored the other choices, but I had to use some common sense on that one,” explained Assistant Principal John Trinca.

An additional round of polling allowed students to settle on a zip line that suits their fancy. Along with other new equipment, it would be installed in a new poured concrete play area designed to minimize skinned knees and ease disabled access.

“We want to create a space where everyone can play and have fun,” said fifth-grader Kate Simpson.

Right now, the most wheelchair accessible part of the playground is the basketball court, which may not be the safest place for a disabled student.

“There’s kickball, baseball, football, basketball and soccer all happening on that court,” Grosscup said. “It’s pretty much a concrete zoo.”

To alleviate that, a new soccer field is part of the plan. There’s also an amphitheater and other spaces for outdoor learning.

Perhaps most importantly, the plan calls for improved drainage and paths throughout the playground. According to Trinca, as much as half of the playground is unusable during mud season, and ice and snow often accumulate on the route in and out.

“We only have one passage for 650 kids,” Simpson observed.

Roaring Fork School District has already budgeted drainage improvements, while the full project would be contingent on passage of the RFSD bond issue on the November ballot. The school is also seeking a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for aspects of the project. Mountain Valley Developmental Services, located next door, has already donated new planter boxes to the school.

Trinca views the project as a chance for the school to reflect a city that has a reputation as a fun, outdoor destination.

“We want it to be a place where kids really love to be outside,” he said.

Grosscup’s vision is a little more specific.

“When my little brother gets here I want him to have a good time at recess and be safe,” he said.

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