New playground blessed at St. Agnes
It was hard to tell who was the most excited among the big group that gathered outside of St. Agnes School's new playground on Tuesday, Oct. 16 — all the children or the man who cut the ribbon to open it, Harlan Tenhoff.
Tenhoff was a volunteer at the school for 28 years, serving as a playground volunteer five days a week during lunch recess and as a general "Mr. Fix-It."
"There's nothing he can't fix," said Tenhoff's daughter, Mary Lang, who traveled from Fargo for the playground dedication in his honor. "He's a good man to have around."
Before the students eagerly tested out the new equipment — slides, a "Supernova" balancing wheel, swing sets, tether ball, basketball toss-up, climbing areas and more — Father David Petron offered a blessing to the playground.
Students also played a part, helping sprinkle holy water near the playground's entrance.
The "phase one" playground installation was a community effort. St. Agnes Principal Pat Pospisil noted that the playground build was done by several former and current St. Agnes School parents, teachers, alumni and volunteers under the supervision and direction of Midwest Playscapes.
Money from the Catholic United Financial Catholic School Raffle helped pay for some of the new equipment, as well as contributions from local businesses and civic organizations. Donations were also provided by family members in memory of loved ones and from private donations through the Fund-A-Need program.
The playground has many child-friendly safety innovations. The grounds, for instance, are spongy and soft because they contain more than 8 inches of mulched wood chips on top of pea rock tiling, which will quickly drain away water.
Some favorite equipment from the school's old playground were moved to the new location, such as the monkey bars and the caterpillar climb. The school is selling other used playground equipment through K-Bid Online Auction, Pospisil said.
Other phases of the playground will take place as funds become available.
In the meantime, the students are taking to their new playground with enthusiasm — sliding, balancing, climbing, crawling and scurrying from one part of the playground to another.
Tenhoff, looking over all the activity at the playground's Oct. 16 dedication, summed up the new play area: "It's really nice — beautiful."