Play’s the thing


On Feb. 7, Mapleton Elementary School opened its new playground, which will expand recess opportunities. Mapleton High School seniors joined District Superintendent Jodi O’Mara to demonstrate the equipment to the younger students.

Mapleton Elementary School unveils new playground equipment

Feb. 9, 2022 — Monday was an exciting day for Mapleton School District. After waiting and watching for three weeks, the kids of Mapleton Elementary were finally given the green light to use the district’s new playground equipment for what it was meant... playing upon. 

“I think having the kids watch the gentlemen work on it, put out the border, lay out the cedar chips, put all the parts together and then finally pound it all down has really given them a better appreciation,” said Mapleton Superintendent Jodi O’Mara.

The students who, for weeks, have had to practice the highest levels of willpower to stay off the equipment as it went up may not agree with O’Mara, but when the playground finally opened, all agreed it was worth the wait. 

“The new equipment is so cool,” said Bobby Bender, second grade. “I love how it looks like you’re going through an actual tunnel. I also like the slide because there’s two of them right by each other.”

The slide, tunnel and rest of the playground equipment were purchased for $92,000 from Buell Earthworks and Excavation and installed by Todd Erickson, of Wilsonville. The total cost after excavating, landscaping and installation was just under $150,000, according to O’Mara. 

The money for the project came from an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) grant the district received to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. By adding this second set of playground equipment at Mapleton Elementary, in a separate location on campus, students can enjoy recess in a more physically distanced situation. Two sets of playground equipment mean fewer kids on one set at a time. 

There would be no playground equipment at all without the hard work of two of the district’s educational assistants, Yvette Simington and Carrie Dean.  

“They researched, wrote grants, and thanks to them, we got our new playground,” said O’Mara.  “Huge shout out to them!”

If maintained, the equipment could last 20 to 30 years. 

O’Mara is especially excited for the current students who have been patiently waiting to get their chance to climb onto to the new gear.

“It’s very exciting,” said O’Mara. “Our kids are so pumped.”

Monday morning, the elementary school students were asked to be just a little more patient when members of Mapleton High’s senior class took time out of their busy academic schedules to first verse themselves on the ins and outs of the new equipment and then, in turn, show their younger counterparts how to safely use the playground. 

After O’Mara’s initial training session for the seniors, the first group of kids arrived at the playground. They patiently watched and listened as O’Mara explained the rules and procedures for the new playground equipment while the seniors demonstrated. 

The gathered students agreed that this equipment was going to be a lot of fun. Though they would have to wait to until their actual recess to get their first shot at the equipment, some of the children in attendance explained they had previous experience with playgrounds of this type and that their classmates’ high expectations were justified.

“I think it looks really fun,” said first-grader Ziyana Buckwald-Sundstrom. “I've been on a playground as tall as this one and I've been on a playground with a two-person slide, and it was really fun, so I think this one will be too. I’m also really excited to go on the climby-thingy because I’ll be able to hang upside down.”

The students also seemed to agree that the parts of the equipment that would spin them around quickly were the best and what they most looked forward to.

“The twirly thing is what I’m excited about,” said Lincoln Moffett, first grade. 

Mapleton’s senior class spent an extended period testing out the “twirly things” just to make sure they were safe for the younger students. The seniors were only doing it for the safety of the younger students. They, themselves, were not having fun at all. 

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