Dear Ancona Community,

The Outdoor Learning Space is so close to being complete you can almost see it. I wrote that it would be completed by the end of the month, and indeed we are very close to that. Weather and construction delays have interfered only a little, so what you see outside is tremendous progress. Scroll back in time on our Facebook page and you will see:
Foundations and 27 (!) pier footings poured for the ropes course, slide, dome and sand & water area

  • The amphitheater fully formed over 5 complicated pours
  • Gravel backfill over the entire ropes course area
  • New curbs and sidewalks formed
  • 2 swingsets installed at north end of playground (near preprimary) and south end (in nature area)
  • Nature area’s sand arena, with water table, almost complete (waiting to install water fixture)
  • New fencing currently being installed
  • New trees currently being planted

The field will be completed very soon, too; probably in the next week or so. New bioswales will prevent mud puddles on the field, and we’ll see some additional soil put on top before planting sod. The sod will take 3 weeks to root before kids can play on it, but the gravel track will be ready as soon as it’s down. Our contractor has been largely ahead of schedule and in very good communication with us throughout this process.

Of course, the thing that everyone is waiting for — the thing that will make it look complete — is the ropes course. This custom-made, beautifully designed signature of the playground has been delayed, but is definitely almost here. As I posted on Facebook, the giant apparatus had to be carefully assembled for fit and testing, have tabs welded on in order to attach the ropes, and now it is being disassembled so it can be sent out for painting. The playground fabricator estimates we will see it fully assembled on our playground on October 21, followed immediately by the installation of the resilient surface to cover the gravel and base.

Consequently, we are postponing Ancona Day until the playground is ready, date TBD. Come what may, we will celebrate Ancona’s spectacular new playground together!

As you can read in this letter  from the fabricator’s president, our unique design requires meticulous construction. Richard has told us that despite our anxiousness to see the final product, he will not compromise safety and quality.

Our contingency plans are working. Teachers have been graceful under pressure, maintaining recess and outdoor time under these stressful conditions. A few days ago we had our first fire drill, walking quite easily and safely around the construction. The school ticks on, and kids keep playing. They will play all the more happily when this project is completed, and I have been excited to show them the progress.

Today a teacher told me how glad he was that Ancona students have been learning from the construction process. He even said he preferred it, educationally, to having the kids arrive with the site completed entirely over the summer. While I expect many of us have other feelings that balance out that appreciation, his point is not lost on me. It is one of the things that I look forward to at Ancona every day: Mining every moment for its full learning potential.