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Playground ribbon cutting

On Thursday, November 16, we cut the ribbon on our new playground, the spectacular Brodnik Outdoor Learning Environment, or BOLE. Students, staff, families, members of the Board of Trustees, and other friends gathered to celebrate the opening and experience the playground first-hand. 

The new play space was carefully designed to complement our outdoorsy, tree-centric campus, using natural materials in both the construction of the play elements as well as the landscaping. In addition to the play structures, some of which are nearly unique in the country, the boulders (many unearthed during construction) and log steppers across planted rain gardens allow for deeper engagement with nature and are in harmony with the feel of our campus. The playground also features 16 newly planted trees and nearly 2,000 native plants.

Play is a vital and necessary component of our students’ school day. Outdoor learning and unstructured play are integral components of how we support child development. Children are biologically designed to play, and in addition to making children happy, many academic studies show just how important play is to the maturation of cognition, self-esteem, and attention.

When we set out to upgrade the outdoor play area, we wanted to make sure it provided opportunities for kids to play in ways they wanted to. In fact, when our playground design partners Studio Ludo spent a day on campus with our students and faculty over a year ago, they asked our students what they liked to experience when they were outside.  Their answers, such as “I like to be up high,” or “I like to build forts,” or “I like to swing and spin,” informed the playground design. It is a space for our kids, designed by our kids.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Head of School Chris Hancock commented, “I must admit, I am fired up standing here today. Because we celebrate not just the opening of a new space worthy of the experience we seek to provide our students and families. Today, we serve notice that we have only begun to hit our stride as a school community. We offer the best education in the nation for students who learn differently. They deserve excellence in the classroom and for over 50 years Benchmark has delivered. And now, we have a renewed outdoor space that too is excellent, and worthy of our students.” 

boy on slide

We are grateful to the Brodnik family who were instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.  Matt and Maggie Brodnik are parents of TJ Brodnik ‘22, who is now at The Haverford School. The Brodniks were the first family to offer a lead gift to this project back when we were celebrating our 50th anniversary as a school, and they are a testament to just how transformational contributions for decades into the future. 

This video offers a virtual tour of the new playground and shows the excitement of our students playing at the Brodnik Outdoor Learning Environment for the first time.
 

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Playground ribbon cutting

On Thursday, November 16, we cut the ribbon on our new playground, the spectacular Brodnik Outdoor Learning Environment, or BOLE. Students, staff, families, members of the Board of Trustees, and other friends gathered to celebrate the opening and experience the playground first-hand.