For the past two years, recess for students at Mark Twain Elementary School was different.
There was no playground because the new building was being constructed last year and once the building was complete just in time for the start of this school year, focus shifted to making the new playground a reality.
There were many meetings, many decisions to be made, and on Monday they finally went from ideas to the real deal at a celebration ceremony held in the light raindrops of cool, cloudy morning.
The new playground features a full playing equipment, a basketball court, an area to play ball — whether it be base, soft or kick — and a 1/10 of a mile track.
"It's kind of still surreal," Camilla Ferrel, one of the organizers behind the playground said. "We worked so hard on it, and just to see it all done — I can't wait to see the kids on it. I'm so excited for them."
"We've had lots of meetings to establish what kind of playground equipment we're going to have, and what company we're going to go with, and if we're going to have the soft-surface tile or wood chips. A lot of decisions had to be made," Mark Twain Principal Karen Wheelan added. "We've actually been having recess outside on our bus drive, but it's limited space, limited activities because it's kind of on an incline so you really couldn't have any balls out there or anything with them rolling into the street, so they've used a lot of sidewalk chalk, jump ropes."
Students released balloons with notes about their school on the inside. It was hard to not notice a face of amazement as many of the youngsters cheered and pointed at their airborne gifts floating away in the Hannibal wind.
"It's nice to get to the end of a project," Jill Janes, Hannibal School District superintendent, said after the ceremony. "I think this is the last step of our project, there's just a few little last minute things to do and then we're ready to go. You can see the excitement of the children, and that's what's most important, how excited they are."
Like the last playground, it will be open to the community from dawn till dusk. A tradition, like the elementary school itself, that has been part of the neighborhood.
"This is going to be open for the community. I think it's going to be a great place for the community members just to come and walk on the track. A good place to go and walk and have a good time. The track can be used by adults, we have the basketball court that can be used by children and adults, the playground equipment is great. A nice addition to this neighborhood community," Janes said. "Everybody used the (old) Mark Twain playground, I can remember people my age talking about how they would always go to the Mark Twain playground and play. Hopefully the tradition can go on."
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