Montrose, CO – For the first time in the history of the Columbine Middle School campus, the school will have a playground. The new playground facility became a reality this year after the school was awarded a $110,000 grant from Great Outdoor Colorado’s (GOCO) School Yard Initiative program. A public ribbon cutting to celebrate the playground is scheduled for November 27 at 1:30 p.m.
The grant funds represented the bulk of the project cost with the construction of the playground totaling $173,031. The park is a component of Columbine's new campus, which opened this year. The project is a collaboration between the Montrose County School District (MCSD) and the City of Montrose.
“The new Columbine playground is a great addition to our community and to the new school,” said Montrose Mayor Roy Anderson. “I’m proud of the design done by the students, and the creativity they demonstrated. We all need places to enjoy, relax and refresh our bodies and minds — middle school children are no different.”
The school district and the city submitted the grant application to GOCO in January. In March, GOCO awarded the school funds to build the playground as a way to enhance the new school.
GOCO, in announcing its decision, said, "For 58 years, Columbine has only had two basketball hoops and a few foursquare courts, providing few opportunities for students to play outside. Eager to better serve its student population, Columbine will create the school’s first true playground, based on a student-led design process."
The proposal to GOCO ranked highest out of 14 school-yard grant applications submitted during the 2018 funding round. The new park will consist of a variety of nature-based and educational components that include a climbing boulder, group net swing and individual swings, native landscape learning areas with elements of the region’s ecosystems, tree identification markers, a weather station, a gaga ball court, bench rest areas, playground surfacing, and a welcome sign with playground rules.
The partnership began in 2017 when the City Council authorized a land swap with the school district for property in front of Columbine Middle School. The city agreed to exchange 1.195 acres — a portion of Rotary Park — to the district in exchange for .133 acres located in front of the existing school building. The playground was constructed on .913 acres of land near the intersection of South 12th Street and Mesa Avenue. The estimated value of the city’s contribution to the intergovernmental agreement with the school district is estimated at $34,000.
“Collaborating with Columbine Middle School to make the playground a reality has been a great experience,” said Kendall Cramer, City of Montrose grant coordinator. “The students and staff should be very proud of their efforts. The playground will serve the community for many years to come.”
School principal Ben Stephenson said the design of the playground began with student input. As part of the school’s Problem-Based Learning approach, students were tasked with presenting their playground ideas and cost estimates to a panel that consisted of their classmates, teachers, administrators, and other community members.
Students also created a survey to gather input from their peers and the community. In total, nearly 200 students presented conceptual designs and cost estimates to bring their vision to life, according to a GOCO news release.
Teachers will have the opportunity to take students outside and use the natural elements of the playground to teach their classes about animals, plants, trees, various types of rocks, and weather.
Playground hours are from 4 p.m. to dusk on school days, 8 a.m. to dusk on weekends and holidays.
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support.
GOCO has invested over $6.4 million in projects in Montrose County.
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