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By Carissa Sitki
Two weeks ago, the playground at St. Francis/Holy Ghost (SFHG) school in Jerseyville received a major update, with the completion of a brand new jungle gym on Sept. 18. The equipment was ready to be enjoyed by students on Tuesday, Sept. 21
The new fixture boasts slides, ladders, tunnel, and various other climbable structures, sitting atop a two and a half inch thick layer of “poured in place” rubber matting surface. The rubber material extends outward to protect students in the event of a fall anywhere near the new equipment. “Safety of our students was very important to us when it came down to deciding on how we were going to do this project,” said SFHG principal, Dr. Dennis Cramsey. “The rubber material was an important feature.”
Brad Hagan, owner of the Grafton Oyster Bar was the catalyst to the project, which has been a year in the making, according to Cramsey. “Mr. Hagan offered a large donation to get this project off the ground,” said Cramsey. “After opening [donations] up to our families and parishioners, it took only a month to raise the needed funds [$78,000.00] to build the beautiful playground that sits on the northwest playground.”
The school began collecting donations around Easter and when they reached their goal, a month later, they began making plans for the project. According to Cramsey, the completion of the new playground was a direct result of the generosity of the parishioners, families and friends and local business owners. “Through the donations of over a hundred individuals, families and businesses, we were able to raise the funds to install a kid-friendly and safe playground,” said Cramsey.
After looking around at several companies, the school decided to go with Cunningham Recreation to carry out the project because they take care of the design, construction, and installation of the equipment. “They did a fantastic job,” said Cramsey.
Cramsey noted that the fixture is more than just a fun place for the kids to play. “Not only are we helping students advance spiritually and academically, we can now support their physical development,” said Cramsey. “After they’re done playing, they will be able to return to the classroom refreshed and better prepared to learn.”
Fr. Hyland, Pastor of Holy Ghost Catholic Church shared in the optimism about the project’s completion and the benefits it will have for SFHG students for years to come. “Our Catholic faith encourages us to be healthy in mind and body to help us to be healthy in spirit. Our teachers and staff at SFHG work hard to promote a healthy mind with a rigorous education for our students,” he said. “We hope that providing better playground facilities will improve our students’ physical well-being. We are grateful for the generosity of all the donors, both as individuals and as groups, and the support of the Jersey County Catholic Parishes and Parishioners that helped to provide this new equipment for our SFHG students to use and enjoy.”
To Cramsey’s knowledge, there has not been a playground structure at the school in decades. “Our students at the Holy Ghost site have not had a playground structure in many years,” he said.
The students already love the new playground, according to Cramsey. “When the first group of students got to use it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen kids run so fast,” he said.