The 960 students at Bear Creek Intermediate School in Elizabethtown, PA, were faced with a big decision last school year: they had the opportunity to vote on two new playground concepts for their school.
Bear Creek’s Principal, Dr. Annette Spagnolo, worked closely with Steve Hemler, their General Recreation sales consultant who builds playgrounds as his specialty, to develop two distinct designs. Dr. Spagnolo’s goal was to build play areas that would challenge all skill levels among the student body, as well as accommodate 300 children at any given recess time. Based on their needs, Steve introduced Dr. Spagnolo and her team to Landscape Structures’ EVOS™ and Play Naturally® playsystems.
“We’d never seen anything like it [Evos™] before,” says Dr. Spagnolo. “And, working with Steve was phenomenal. We trusted him with all the details. He gave us reliable time frames and developed effective teams. We also asked him to develop two choices for playgrounds for us to present to our students, parents and staff for feedback.”
Based on the students’ feedback to connect the Play Naturally rock climbers together, Steve incorporated a PlayBooster® bridge in between the rocks. “It was important to them that the big rocks were connected,” explains Dr. Spagnolo. “The students love the idea of being able to run across from one climbing rock to the other.” In addition, they wanted the play area to fit in well with the nearby wetland and surrounding landscape. The color palette is brown, green and plum.
The Evos-focused play area has a different look and feel. Steve designed it with a “college campus” theme in mind: the play equipment colors complement the existing color palette of the new school. He also included ADA-accessible swings in the final design.
Since the kick-off of the new school year, Dr. Spagnolo has received tremendous feedback from parents and students alike. “During our orientation for the new playground, there were smiles on everyone’s faces!” she recalls. The playgrounds are turning out to be more than a place for recess. During one of the teacher workdays, the teachers used it for team building: they went on a scavenger hunt that took them through the new playground.
Ron Nobile, Director of Physical Plant for Elizabethtown Area School District, adds that the playground’s ability to challenge their students’ skills will work well with the Physical Education program. Nobile had worked with Steve in the past on a variety of projects. Nobile describes Steve as “the consummate professional” that he could rely on to meet all standards, codes and age-appropriate requirements. “We needed a professional guiding us,” says Nobile. “Steve really took the steps to make this entire project a collaborative effort. Our students’ ideas were very important to us.”