New Nisley playground taking shape

Nisley Elementary School students will have the playground of their dreams by the end of the year.

Students drew maps of their ideal playgrounds last school year to help shape the new playground’s blueprint. The final design includes picnic tables, an outdoor shade shelter with a concealed white board that can be unlocked for outdoor instruction, a cement chess board table, a revamped running path and a NEOS Wall: an outdoor, vertical electronic game system that consists of four panels, each with four lights that blink with different colors.

Up to four students at a time can play a game on the wall by running from panel to panel, hitting lights as they flicker in a particular color. One student would be assigned to hit the blue lights, another the green lights, and so on. The player with the most hits on his or her assigned color wins.

The NEOS Wall is expected to arrive March 18, and construction of the outdoor classroom will begin as soon as the ground thaws, according to Nisley Principal Curry Newton.

Two of the three fences around the play area already have been replaced, a basketball court with six hoops has been installed and installation of an irrigation system to prevent the school’s football field from turning into a duck pond every time the Grand Valley gets a downpour is in progress.

The playground was little more than a giant sandbox surrounded by crumbling cement curbs a couple years ago, according to Newton. There weren’t enough swings or activities to keep students entertained, and the cement curbs were a tripping hazard. There was nowhere to seek shade and few places to sit.

It was time for a change. So the school applied for and received a $13,500 grant in 2011 to design a new playground. The design was submitted to the Colorado Health Foundation, which awarded the grant for the design process. The foundation awarded the school an additional $275,000 in November to make the design a reality.

The entire remodeling project must be complete by the end of this October to comply with terms of the grant, which is the sole funding source for the project. Newton said students are excited for the project to be done so they can see their ideas come to fruition.

“We dreamed with our kids and our community, and they came up this,” Newton said. “They have buy-in; they can see it starting to happen.”


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