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Flora Elementary School Playgrounds
Michael Miyamoto / LASN Editor


The grand opening for Flora Elementary School was in August 2015, and Kidstuff Playsystems completed the playgrounds. The company specializes in IPEMA (International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association) certified and ADA-compliant playground equipment. Separate play sites were designed for children in grades pre-kindergarten, K-2 and 3-5, with a different age-appropriate centerpiece apparatus installed in each of these areas. There is also a common space at the Flora, Ill., campus for K-5 kids. The centerpiece of the pre-kindergarten playground (pictured) measures 35 feet by 32 feet. Two spring riders (jet and biplane), a three-bay single-post swing set, a mock school bus on springs, and a bench with a sunshade complement this space.
Photo credits: Lassiter Advertising

Flora Elementary School was completed in August 2015, and since it serves children from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, of course, playgrounds were needed for its sprawling campus in Flora, Ill.

What better company to meet the school's needs than one that is certified by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA), is also ISO 9001 certified and builds ADA-compliant playground equipment.

Richard Hagelberg, co-owner of Kidstuff Playsystems, estimates that 60 percent of his business is with schools, but his company has also supplied playground equipment to parks, day care centers, churches, apartment complexes, Head Start programs, homeowner's associations, campgrounds, new developments and resorts. His company designs, builds, powder-coats and distributes the equipment out of its headquarters in Gary, Ind.

Flora, Ill., has a little more than 5,000 residents, according to the 2010 Census, and the Flora Community Unit School District #35 serves about 1,450 students. The town is located in Clay County, in the southeastern part of the state. Joel Hackney, superintendent of the school district, said Flora Elementary has 46 classrooms, between 700-800 students, and is about 126,000 square feet in size.

Working with the playground installer was a great experience, from the design phase all the way through installation, Hackney said. "As with any new construction process, timing was critical, and they did a great job working with us on getting things completed in a timely manner and being flexible with design, timelines, etc. Our students have thoroughly enjoyed the play structures and areas that were installed."


The focal point of the K-2 play space is 42 feet by 52 feet. It has two huge slides, a popular track ride, a "Lilypad Walk," double climbing wall, overhead loop ladder, a curved balance beam and three "Spinsanity" devices.


The play area for grades 3-5 measures 43 feet by 31 feet. This structure has a step-up climber, chain net, "Lilypad Walk," arch climber, climbing wall, concentration panel, driver panel and wave slide. Three tetherball poles can also be found nearby.



A mock school bus and a three-bay, single-post swing set are also popular attractions in the pre-kindergarten space.


Three devices called "Spinsanity" lend additional charm to the K-2 play site. The combined cost of the playgrounds and common area came to a little more than $300,000. The K-5 common area features 14 regular swings, a Jenn swing for special needs children, and covered picnic tables.

Flora Elementary School has four separate play sites, all designed in consultation with principals Julie Pearce and Leslie Carder and the school district superintendent. Three of those areas are for children in specific grade levels. The fourth is a common area for students in grades K-5; it includes 14 regular swings, a Jenn swing for special needs children, and covered picnic tables.

Each of the age-appropriate play areas features a different play system as a centerpiece or focal point. The main piece of playground equipment for the pre-kindergarten area can accommodate up to 30 children, and up to 50 children can use the centerpiece of the K-2 play site. The main play structure for the grades 3-5 site measures 43 feet by 31 feet.

There are also covered picnic tables and sun shelters in all of the play areas. Engineered wood fiber was used as a safety surface in all of the playgrounds and the common area, and they all have plastic border timbers and wheelchair ramps.

School Specialty Inc., a national supplier of school equipment and supplies, is the playground manufacturer's dealer and sold all of the equipment to the school district. School Specialty sold the interior furnishings and the playground equipment through a cooperative purchasing contract.

As for challenges, a wetter-than-normal summer slowed progress a bit. There was mud everywhere but the installers still managed to complete the playgrounds on time.

The company started out in 1982 as Olympic Recreation, and its first structure was made of wood and built in a classroom. By 1985, the business had grown so much that a new facility was opened in Gary, Ind., and the company changed its name to its present form. It is a charter member of IPEMA and has maintained IPEMA and ISO certifications for many years.

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2016.

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