New playground structure unveiled at Peach Plains: ‘Is this awesome or what?’
GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Peach Plains Elementary School students returning from spring break Monday morning were greeted by a castle.
For the past week, a group worked in the snow and rain to bring a castle to life on the school’s playground. The roughly 42-foot-wide by 30-foot-deep structure from Out on a Limb Playhouses stems from a collaboration of students and the school’s PTA.
A playground committee of students gained hands-on experience with project-based learning. The group interviewed classmates and took pictures and videos of students using the existing equipment. They sought feedback from their classmates through pictures, essays and comments.
In the end, Peach Plains students voted on whether they wanted to have a pirate ship or castle structure.
After an official ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning, Peach Plains classrooms had special time throughout the day to play on the new piece of equipment.
“Is this awesome or what?” Young Fives student Owen Sikkema said to his classmates climbing the castle’s rock wall.
Mike Fraser of Out on a Limb Playhouses said he designed the castle with student input seeking places to climb, hang out and let their imaginations run free.
Since students approved the castle design, Fraser and Mike Bakker dedicated more than 300 hours to turning plans on paper into a real-life castle. Fraser said everything was custom fabricated and nothing came from a box.
Through the designs and projects, Fraser said he hopes it inspires children’s imaginations.
Although the project was initially slated for summer, Fraser said the timing worked out to install the castle during spring break.
Despite all the work and long hours, Fraser said seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces was rewarding.
“To see the kids looking at it, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Peach Plains PTA President Barbara Berko said the castle wouldn’t have been possible without the support of businesses such as D. Baker & Son Lumber, Grand Haven Custom Molding, Seaver Finishing and Reenders Blueberry Farms.
Third-grader Isaac Hann, a member of the playground committee, said seeing the castle in real life on Monday looked “cooler” than he imagined.
Classmate Kari Taylor said she thought it was “cool” that the top of the castle and its flags are visible from the road while looking at the school.
Since the installation happened several months earlier than the students anticipated, Hann said it means current fourth-graders will have a chance to enjoy it before they move onto White Pines Intermediate School in the fall.
Prior to the start of the 2015-16 school year, students and parents spruced up the Peach Plains playground by adding stencils for foursquare and hopscotch, and a map of the United States.