Students patiently watch as concrete is poured in preparation of the installation of the new playground installed at Spring Grove Public Schools.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Students patiently watch as concrete is poured in preparation of the installation of the new playground installed at Spring Grove Public Schools.

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Running, swinging, climbing, laughing, playing.... The elementary students at Spring Grove Public School are enjoying their time outside for recess even more now that their new playground has been installed.

For quite some time, there has been talk of replacing the old playground that was about 30 years old.

About 10 years ago, there was a playground committee at school that had looked into various options. However, the conversations were put on hold when consolidation was being discussed.

Plans for replacing the playground have continued since then, if only on the back burner until recently.

Last year, the third-grade class participated in the Green Sneakers EcoChallenge for Education in Minnesota program that helped raise some money for the playground.

They asked the community, families and students to turn in sneakers that were used, but in good condition. These were then weighed and the participating schools were paid 50¢ per pound of shoes collected.

School families and community members have saved and turned in many, many milk caps that were turned into the participating milk companies for reimbursement. This money also went toward the playground purchase.

Money was donated from F.F.E. (Families For Education) to help offset the cost. The remaining balance was covered by the school district.

"Having the students help with the Green Sneakers fundraiser and collecting the milk caps has given them ownership of the playground because they know that their efforts have helped make it become a reality," commented Rachel Udstuen, Spring Grove School superintendent.

"Last spring, the students were able to vote on various things that they wanted to be a part of the playground. Two of the most popular items were monkey bars and more height in the structure."

The old playground items were removed and the site was prepped for installation of the new items. On Saturday morning, Nov. 17, at about 8 a.m. volunteers along with a consultant from the Minnesota/ Wisconsin Playground Company began the installation of the new playground structures.

The company's consultant coordinated everything and the installation wrapped up about 12:45 p.m. that day!

"Our students are some of the most patient and well-behaved kids because they were out on the playground area, but they could not touch until it was ready and that's pretty tough to do," added Udstuen with a grin.

With much anticipation, on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 20, the students got a chance to test out the new playground. They had much to be thankful for on this day right before the Thanksgiving break.