HANCOCK — The students of the Barkell Elementary School will return to classes next week and they will find brand new playground equipment spread out across a completely redesigned playground.
The 2022 bond issue included plans to improve the playground by updating equipment to current safety codes while also creating activity zones based on age. The new equipment improves safety and will also improve the students’ experience and fun.
The new playground looks amazing, Principal Dan Vaara said.
“There’s actually more equipment than I think any of us realized that we were getting,” he said. “Seeing it all set up out there is, it’s pretty cool.”
There are multiple new play structures that replaced some of the older equipment, like an older swing set that Vaara said had been in place for many years.
There are two new large play structures and some new swing sets of various types.
“They match really well with the equipment we had installed about 12 or 15 years ago,” said Vaara. “It almost looks like it was part of the design for the new stuff, except it had been there, obviously, long before this new stuff was installed.”
The structures vary according to the age range of the users, Vaara said.
Vaara said installation of the new equipment took about two weeks to complete, adding that the grounds still needs some more wood chips, but he is not sure when they will be delivered.
In June, Steve Patchin, then Hancock Superintendent said that C.M. Longyear, parent company of Northern Hardwoods, donated all the wood chips that would be needed for the playground.
The district had budgeted $270,000 for the playground upgrades, Patchin said in May, and the bid came in at $290,000. However, $40,000 was subtracted from the total because of Longyear’s donation of the wood chips.
The plan also included open areas for the children to play football and baseball games. There will also be a basketball hoop in the area, so the 5- and 6-year-olds will have something to shoot at, Vaara told the School Board in May.