Students at the Chilmark School now have a new playground, complete with slides, swings, and even an “Elephant.”
The Chilmark School’s brand-new playground was finished August 31 — three days before the first day of school. The completed playground came about through donations from the Chilmark Community Center, the Chilmark Preschool, and Community Preservation committee funds from Chilmark and Aquinnah. A community letter-writing campaign to Chilmark residents helped raise funds as well.
Principal Susan Stevens estimated $180,000 was raised in donations to fund the playground project. Columbia Cascade Co. did the majority of the construction.
“We’re very excited it’s finished. Kids come with parents on weekends, there’s kids after school. People love the look, like it’s something natural. I’m just thankful we had such a great community come to gather and support us,” Stevens said.
The playground was a point of contention between Stevens and the Up-Island School Committee, which said it was not consulted on the project and an RFP for the project was not submitted by the correct person.
Robert Lionette, who represents Chilmark on the Up-Island School Committee, “conceded there were some small procedural ‘missteps’ in the procurement process of the playground features, but … he stood by solidly behind Stevens’ work as a whole,” a March 27 Times article stated.
The Times met with Stevens at noontime Thursday. Among the students laughing, running, and hanging on monkey bars, a few took a moment to reflect on their favorite parts of the playground.
Fifth grader Jean Flanders said she “liked the monkey bar arch and the slides.” Her brother Oscar, who is in third grade, said he liked the new playground, but he prefers playing soccer out in the field.
When asked if she liked the Elephant, a roped basket that spins around at an angle, third grader Reed Cabot, said she liked it, but everyone in the school calls it “the spinny thing.”
“I like the monkey bar arch because a bunch of people can be on it,” fourth grader Bella Arters said. “One thing I’m out here for is to have fun.”