New Playground Nurtures the Whole Child at Oak Knoll School in Summit, NJ

Oak Knoll School Playground Photo

An interview with Christine Spies, Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child

While many General Recreation client projects are years in the making, sometimes the creation of a great playground is very swift. With six weeks from “hello” to installation, Gen Rec’s Joe Del Vecchio worked closely with Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, New Jersey to remove an older playground and debut a new one by the start of the school year. In this Q&A, Oak Knoll Lower School Division Head, Christine Spies, reflects on their new playground.

What did you want to achieve with this project?              

Having a playground for children to play on is an important component to our educational program. It offers time for our students to have fun, relax and socialize together. We purposely designed a playground with elements that would appeal to all students in our K-6 community. While they’re playing, students are navigating and developing important gross motor skills, as well as working collaboratively.

How does your new playground “fit” with your school mission? 

Since founding in 1924, our mission has been to cultivate the whole child – academically, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We’re dedicated to fostering joyous personal relationships with God, celebrating the dignity and uniqueness of each person, inspiring acts of compassion, providing an intellectually challenging program of study and preparing graduates to meet the demands of the age.

This playground was chosen with that in mind, because it provides something for everyone due to the range of options for play – be it on one of the many slides, ladders, or musical instruments.

How did you learn about General Recreation?

While I had been referred to another company, I wanted to have at least two others for comparison of playground offerings and pricing. I did a Google search and their website came up. After meeting with all of the playground companies, my facilities director and I felt that Gen Rec offered the best value for the different components we wanted to see in our play structure.

What was it like to work with Joe?  

From the first meeting with Joe, and in conversations throughout the project, he listened to our needs, gave insightful suggestions, and made adjustments to the design when we asked to view different layouts and options. He was supportive and pleasant to work with, as well as the installation team. They were easy to talk to and mindful of the space surrounding their work area during the entire project.

Did you have special requests and elements for the playground design? 

When considering the design of our playground structure, we kept in mind the ages of our students, variety in play elements, size and the color scheme. We specifically wanted our students to enjoy three different types of slides, a climbing wall and other climbing components, a balance component, a music component, and a tower with a roof. We were able to achieve all of these elements in Gen Rec’s design.

How are students, staff and families responding to the new play structures?

They love it! Our students really enjoy the bright, fun colors and the exciting features. Our parents appreciate the safe, fun environment their children have while they’re on break from classes. We often have several students and parents enjoying the playground after school as well.

What are your playground hopes for the future?

We were able to create the playground within our budget and our students are thrilled with it! Looking to the future, we’d like to integrate additional add-on and freestanding components. We look forward to working with Joe and General Recreation again soon.

Curious to learn about General Recreation’s design approach and process? Contact your General Recreation Sales Consultant at 800-726-4793 or

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