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Sep 2, 2019 1:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Our Lady Of The Hamptons School Welcomes Students Back With New Playground

The new playground area at Our Lady of the Hamptons School. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Sep 4, 2019 11:48 AM

The first day back to school may be a fun one for Our Lady of the Hamptons School students, as they will be greeted by a brand-new outdoor playground area ready for them to use. Set up in the back of the Southampton Village school are shiny, blue and beige slides, monkey bars, climbing nets, balancing equipment and games on artificial grass. Tables are wheelchair accessible so that all students can enjoy the facility.

The school has not had an actual playground area for several years, so this was considered a special, and necessary, addition to the campus. There had been a small playground on the side of the school building, but it had to be removed in 2014 when the gymnasium was built. Children have since been spending recess inside the gymnasium or outside on the concrete, where the playground now stands.

“It just looks beautiful. It’s a campus now. It’s really finished,” said Sister Kathy Schlueter, the school’s longtime president, whom everyone calls Sister Kathy.

Construction broke ground in February, taking six months to complete, and still needs a few finishing touches before the official opening ceremony takes place on September 12, at 1 p.m.

But planning for the project actually began three years ago. Sister Kathy said that one of the school’s benefactors from the Dolan Family Foundation approached her in 2016 and asked, “What do you feel you really need?” And she responded that they needed a playground.

“A lot of younger parents, when they come in with kindergartners and first-graders, they ask about a playground,” Sister Kathy said.

Plans commenced from that initial conversation, becoming a project that involved much more than just installing a playground set.

Originally, administrators decided to purchase a residential property adjacent to the school’s rear parking lot lining Railroad Plaza and put the playground there, as there was no vacant space on the existing property for it to go. But after buying the property, safety concerns arose about children playing so close to a busy street, Sister Kathy explained.

So they changed plans and instead used the newly-purchased site for an additional parking area and chose to put the enclosed playground in a parking area closest to the school building. Total project costs came in at just over $1 million, most of which was used to buy the neighboring house, Sister Kathy said.

The playground area is complete, but administers still plan to install a statue of the Virgin Mary at the site in honor of several families’ grandparents.

For the opening ceremony, construction and utility companies that worked on the project will be invited to attend, and Sister Kathy said that the students will recognize and thank them for their hard work.

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