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All 112 students in kindergarten through sixth grade show off new playground equipment at St. Mary School in O’Neill. The $126,000 project completed last month leveled the large playground, laid down rubber mulch and a new field of grass and refurbished two basketball courts. An anonymous donor gave $20,000, Knights of Columbus Council 701 gave $10,000, local businesses and people in the community helped, and elementary and high school students raised funds with taco bars and dodge ball tournaments, a walkathon and other events. St. Patrick Parish and St. Mary School development director Jennifer Wallwey says the playground is safer than the old one, handicap accessible and appealing to families. COURTESY PHOTO

Hard work, donors bring the gift of play

Catholic education builds up the whole person: spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically.

And St. Mary School in O’Neill is covering students’ need for exercise in a special way: new playground equipment in a $126,000 project completed last month, said Jennifer Wallwey, development director for the school and its parish, St. Patrick in O’Neill.

Generous donors including an anonymous gift of $20,000 and $10,000 from Knights of Columbus Council 701 helped make the project possible, Wallwey said.

The equipment includes climbing bars and slides, swing-sets and a merry-go-round. Ground was leveled and rubber mulch replaced gravel under the playset. Two basketball courts were refurbished and more gravel was covered to create a grass field.

All 112 students in kindergarten through sixth grade took time recently to play on the equipment and take photos. Many are in the lower grades this year, and could be playing on the equipment for several years to come.

“We have a huge kindergarten class,” Wallwey said. “It bodes well for the future.”


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