NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) – Construction on a world-class playground, funded by a donation, at a Normal elementary school is underway.
Wednesday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at Colene Hoose Elementary School to launch the construction of a unique play and learning space for students of all abilities.
“It’s been a long time in the making and development. We’ve been very excited as the drawings have been coming in and discussions of what this could all be, and the vision of that,” said Dr. Adam Zbrozek, principal at Colene Hoose Elementary.
16-acres at the school will be transformed into a natural playground. It’ll include experiences such as an amphitheater, river garden, and outdoor classrooms. The project is being managed by Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds.
“Lots of trees, lots of grass, a lot of things you’d be able to see in places that would be more like a nature preserve,” Zbrozek said.
Charlie Jobson, a Colene Hoose Elementary alumni, donated $5.1 million dollars to create the playground. He said it’s a way of giving back to a community that gave to him.
“I got a lot of love and care from my teachers and the community growing up. It’s a good town with a lot of good people,” Jobson said.
The idea for a natural playground was born during Jobson’s travels in Scandinavia where he saw the concept come to life. He said he looks forward to the opportunity it brings students.
“Use their imaginations and make it a magical place of their own, they get to play their own games,” Jobson said.
Students are excited about their new play and learning space as well.
“We’re going to have more space to play and that we’re able to adventure, and it’s not all one area,” said Piper Brantley, a 3rd-grade student.
The playground is set to open this October and the community will be able to use it as well.
It will be named in honor of Charlie Jobson’s parents, who lived in the area for 40 years.