There were no speeches and no ribbon cutting on Monday, Sept. 4. It was just time to return to play at Mather Elementary.
“With all the effort the community put in, you could tell the batteries were drained,” said WesLee Tweedale, Mather Elementary Principal. “But to see all the kids playing and having a good time, it was really great.”
Over 100 children, parents and school officials celebrated the opening of the new playground, which included two separate playsets filled with ramps, slides and things to climb on. A halfbasketball court from Corey’s Courts, merry go rounds, teeter totters and more filled out the play area.
The bright green-andblue playground is different from the previous wooden behemoth of a playplace formerly at Mather. The original prototype was in Mustang orange and black, but school officials said that black metal could be too hot to play on in the summer and the orange was more peach than school colors. According to staff, the playground area now has more sight lines to supervise the kids at recess and still allows the kids plenty of space to run around.
Fundraising in the community was key to the success of the project, according to Munising Middle/High School Principal Nicole Lasak. She was the principal at Mather when the decision was made to replace and upgrade the playground and helped spearhead the project.
Between private donations and fundraisers, the community was able to match the funds provided by the school district.
Lasak also credited multiple people from the community. School maintenance staff of Mike Albright and Chris Kulik led the project, while workers from Gerou Excavating, Deployed Capital and volunteers from Rescue 21 also helped. Other school staff, like Superintendent Mike Travis also joined in on spreading wood chips just days before opening. “The amount of people who stepped up when we needed it was just awesome,” Lasak said.
Lasak said that further signage thanking donors and the communication board for non-verbal children will be installed soon. Plans for benches, picnic tables and trash cans are based on what money will still be available after final payments.