The students of St. Alphonsus Catholic School in Langdon have a lot to be thankful for this November as the school recently had brand new playground equipment installed. St. A’s Principal Derek Simonsen along with the rest of staff and especially the students, are thrilled with the updated play area.
By Melissa Anderson
“St. Alphonsus School has been in need of an updated playground for many years as a large majority of the equipment was severely outdated,” Simonsen said.
St. Alphonsus has seen substantial growth over the past few years, especially in the preschool and prekindergarten programs. With such numbers the decision was made to open up more days and sessions this year because of the demand.
“Our Kindergarten-8th grade numbers have grown and our current kindergarten class is the largest grade in the Kindergarten-8th grade portion of the school,”Simonsen shared.
Not only are the enrollment numbers increasing but the school was also stepped up when the community needed a after-school program. The development of an after-school program only increased the amount of students that use the facilities and put a larger emphasis on the need for an updated playground.
“We are thankful for the growth and we believe that we are going to continue to grow. As a school, we are planning on growth as we look into the needs of the school in the coming years,” Simonsen said.
Updating the playground has been a project that the school board and school itself have been working on for quite awhile. Simonsen explained that the school board saw the need with the ageing equipment coupled with the growth of the school, and began the planning process during last school year with fundraising beginning in the spring of 2018 for it.
“Last year, we had a fence installed around the playground to provide an extra measure of safety for our students and others that use the playground. After doing that, the focus was put on updating the equipment moving forward,” Simonsen added.
Playground equipment along with ground prep and installation can be an expensive project but thankfully St. Alphonsus School had great support in the community.
“There were many generous donors that made the playground a reality for the school. Local businesses, individuals, families, the school board, and many others gave financially to move the project forward and we are extremely thankful to all of them,” Simonsen said.
With the issue of paying for the equipment settled, the school hired DakotaScapes from Sioux Falls, S.D. for the installation of the equipment but hired local contractor Witzel construction for the removal of old equipment and completion of ground prep work.
The final stage of installation was done by the Knights of Columbus, School Board, and other volunteers to help the school save some money on the back end of the project.
“We are very thankful to everyone who volunteered their time, energy, and equipment to help finish the project,” Simonsen stated.
The new equipment is much more than just a playground to the school and carries several important meanings. The playground provides a safe and fun environment for the students of St. Alphonsus, the after-school program students, and the kids in the community.
The playground is also a symbol of a family’s legacy in assisting the school. St. Alphonsus School dedicated the playground to Dennis and Holly Lyons and their family.
“St. Alphonsus School is what it is today in part because of the Lyons family. We love and appreciate their entire family,” Simonsen shared.
Simonsen explained that there is another significant aspect of the playground. It is a visual representation outside the school of something that is happening inside the school. Not only is St. Alphonsus experiencing increasing enrollment, the school itself is growing.
“We are updating and developing the school. We are investing in the students and we want to provide the best possible education for the students that choose our school,” Simonsen explained.
The gratitude felt by the entirety of St. Alphonsus Catholic School for the support it received in this endeavor is immense. The school wishes to thank the community of Langdon, local businesses, parish members, Knights of Columbus, school staff and families, school alumni, school board, and everyone else that supports the school.
“We know that our school is blessed and we want to give back to the community by providing a strong educational option for families along with after-school options and early childhood services,”
“We are constantly discussing how we can best serve the community and help students grow academically, emotionally, physically, and most importantly spiritually. Thank you again to everyone involved in the project!”
If anyone is interested in any of the programs going on at St. Alphonsus School please call the school office at 256-2354 to learn more about Preschool-8th grade education or the after-school program.
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