HOISINGTON — Tuesday morning marked the second day of a community playground build at Hoisington’s new Lincoln Elementary School. While USD 431 will save $15,000 in labor, the real winners are the people pitching in, excited to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience that will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the educational history of their town.
Hoisington contractor Ray Christian, president of Christian Specialties Inc., volunteered his men and equipment. They were busy drilling holes and attaching hardware to framing that was set Monday. The playground was beginning to quickly take shape. While the adults worked, children watched, making sure to stay a safe distance away.
“I’m going to be the first third-grader to play on this equipment,” said Kassie Linsner, who was there with her dad and older brother, Braxton. Her friend, Callie Loesch, echoed the sentiment, saying she would be the first second grader to play there. Both girls then set to work, demonstrating how quickly they could climb one piece of equipment that resembles a giant spiderweb, occasionally looking longingly at the slide. “You don’t need a ladder,” seventh grader Braxton said. “You just climb up the slide and then go down the slide.”
Nearby, Hilton Glynn stood listening and observing. He listed the generations of his family that attended school on that ground over the decades.
“My 92-year-old grandmother went there, my dad went there, I went there, my wife went there, and both our kids went there,” he said. “It’s been around quite a few years, that old school. The new one was much needed.”
USD 431 Board of Education President Dean Stoskopf has helped build several playgrounds over the years. It was his suggestion to organize the community build.
“It saved quite a bit of money, doing it ourselves,” he said. “We have a lot of good volunteers in this community.”
Superintendent Bill Lowry and Lincoln Elementary Principal Allen Charles discussed next steps with a representative from Athco, the supplier of the playground equipment.
“What really helped us is the city showed up yesterday with about 20 people,” Lowry said.
They were joined by a number of Hoisington High School students. Incoming seniors must put in four hours of community service in order to pass a mandatory Government class in order to graduate. Several of them will have that requirement out of the way before school starts because they opted to use part of their summer vacation helping.
But seniors weren’t the only students who chose to spend some of the precious few vacation hours left. Members of FCCLA, the high school basketball team and some football team members also came to help. Holton Hanzlick, Brayden Copp and Cade Mason were back for a second day.
“We’ve moved some concrete bags over on the forklift and put them in the holes, and cut them open and made the cement. We helped dig holes,” Hanzlick said. “Concrete bags weigh 80 pounds. You put the end of the shovel in them and it breaks, and then you mix water in it, and it dries pretty quick.”
This was their first experience with this sort of construction, and all three were eager to do more. When another teen, under the instruction of one of Christian’s men, began attaching an auger driver to a skid steer, the three young men soon grabbed their shovels and began pulling the dirt away from a newly dug post hole.
Lowry said once the playground equipment is assembled and set, a 12-inch layer of shredded rubber mulch will be spread in the play area. The mulch is colored to look similar to bark mulch.
No maintenance is required, he said, and once the rubber settles in, it hooks together and doesn’t move around, but it’s spongy to walk on. Because of the height of some of the equipment, 12 inches is recommended.
Next to the playground, turf will be installed instead of grass.
“If we take 200 kids and run them out here, I can’t keep grass growing. We’ll have mud holes,” he said. “This way we can come out every day, and go in and out and not track.”
School is scheduled to start on Aug. 17, and though the build is going well, Lowry anticipates the playground may not be ready for the first day of school. If that’s the case, a community park blocks away may be utilized. He’s keeping a positive outlook.
“We’ve lucked out on weather,” he said, noting the milder than expected temperatures. “It couldn’t be better.”