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N-P Elementary students celebrate new playground

  • Nashua-Plainfield Elementary School students prepare for the ribbon cutting for the school’s new playground. Nashua Reporter photo by Jennifer Lantz

  • Residents take part in the ribbon cutting for Nashua-Plainfield Elementary School’s new playground last week. Nashua Reporter photo by Jennifer Lantz

By Jennifer Lantz, Nashua Reporter

A year ago, Nashua-Plainfield Elementary Principal Michelle Arneson Havenstrite presented a three-year brainstorm idea for a new playground to the Nashua-Plainfield Board of Education.

There were significant safety hazards for the students with the existing facilities and she wanted to make sure all of her students were safe when out for recess, she said.

“The turning point for this project came during that presentation when board member Jeff Ulrich spoke and said ‘I remember playing on that equipment when I was in elementary school,’” said Havenstrite.

After Ulrich spoke, there was a pause.

“Now I am not saying that Mr. Ulrich is particularly old, but his statement about the age of the playground was an eye-opener,” Havenstrite said.

Shortly after his comment, the school board and Superintendent Keith Turner approved the project and it began to move forward at a quick pace.

The new playground was dedicated last week.

On the new playground, there are three new special benches. The first bench was a donation of the Hagan family a few years ago and is known as the Buddy Bench.

This is a bench for students use when they would like to be included in a game or cannot find a friend to play with, and has been a huge hit with the students.

There are also two memorial benches which have been donated for the playground.

The first is in memory of Jace Smith, son of Chris Smith.

“While Jace did not attend N-P school district, his father, Chris, worked extremely hard on the installation of our playground,” said Havenstrite. “As a thank-you to Mr. Smith, we have included this bench in honor of his son, Jace.”

The second memorial bench is to honor the memory of Caleb Ulrich.

“Caleb was a wonderful mentor to our students in the elementary,” said Havenstrite. “Our staff wanted to ensure Caleb’s spirit of fairness and acceptance of all is be remembered on the playground. This bench will serve as a reminder of Caleb’s high-flying spirit for all of our elementary students and community members who visit.”

Through the determination of the community and volunteers, this three-year long project only took months, Havenstrite said, adding that thanks go to Sam O’Neill, Jack Lovik, Cole Scharnhorst, Lucas Lentz, Hunter Brase and Brodie Woodman.

“This project would never have gotten completed without your dedication and perseverance,” said Havenstrite.

She also said thanks go to the board of education members and Superintendent Turner for their support, as well as to Chad Crabtree from Crabtree Auto Body, River Bend Enterprises, Hawkeye Plastics, Bill McLeland, Brenda Roberts, Melissa Schmall, Lesley McInroy, Chris Smith, Gary Smith, the Hagan family and Ulrich.

The playground is officially open for all to enjoy thanks to everyone who donated to this project.