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Come Play With Us

We have been running, playing, and making memories on our current playground since 2004 when our main administration and lower school building was opened.  The design has served us well and now, 15 years later, playground design and purpose has evolved, just as we have evolved as a school. Now, we have an opportunity to imagine a whole new landscape for outdoor play at St. Mark’s.

Renderings of Our Newly Imagined Playground

Why Does Play Matter?

When our children go outside, it is not just recess.  Outdoor play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit.  When permitted to play freely with peers, children develop skills for seeing things through another person’s point of view--cooperating, helping, sharing, and solving problems.  Outdoor learning engages all the senses: smell, touch, and taste, which are all powerful modes of learning. Children develop their motor planning skills and strength, and have fun while being challenged physically.

Renderings of Our Newly Imagined Playground

Watch a Video Explaining our Project

At the 2019 UnGala, we announced our playground project by showing this video.

Come Play with Us!

Who Will Use this Playground?

St. Mark’s recognizes the importance of outdoor play which is why we devote a lot of time to it in our planning and scheduling as a school.  All students at St. Mark’s have dedicated outdoor play time each day, and preschool 3s through 1st grade students go outside twice a day . Unlike some other schools, our middle school students also have a dedicated time for outdoor play in their daily schedule.  The majority of our students play and use the large playground and field space on the front of our campus.

Renderings of Our Newly Imagined Playground

Play in Progress!

Check out the progress photos of our playground!

Before shots of our playground.

The windows of our Religion Room and Early Childhood classrooms are boarded up!

Before shots of our playground.

Before shots of our playground.

Before shots of our playground.

Before shots of our playground.

Before shot of the playground

Before shot of the playground

Before shot of the prayer garden, which is being relocated to a more central part of campus

Original playscape

Removal of our original playscape

Before shot of our playground

Before shot of the playground

Bald Cypress trees, which are being removed due to tripping hazards.


Removal of the bald cypress trees.

Our beautiful oaks will continue to offer shade.

Creating a level play space

Before shot of the sandbox

Leveling the ground

Removal of the Bald Cypress trees, which created a tripping hazard.

Removing the old turf.

Removing the turf.

Taking care of the our oak trees.

Playground equipment comes this week!

Playground in progress! Equipment comes this week!

Tell Me More!

What kind of equipment are we getting?

Today’s playground equipment can be non-traditional in look and feel and can be appealing in an entirely new way.  After interviewing many reputable companies, St. Mark’s is proud to partner with Kompan in this endeavor. Kompan designs equipment that offers tremendous play value and capacity, while also aiding in physical and cognitive development.  Their unique designs are backed by a world-class warranty and over 40 years of experience and expertise. They are one of the only providers who not only create and manufacture equipment, but run a play research program to ensure that their designs are innovative and inspiring.   

Why doesn’t it look like “traditional” equipment?

Great quality play equipment invites children to problem solve and plan their movement.  The current wisdom behind playground design no longer plans for one large structure. Smaller pieces of equipment encourage movement between structures, and can increase the playground’s total capacity.  Smaller structures also help us maximize our space.

How much is this going to cost? How are we paying for it?

The current project’s total price tag is $461,497.  This is a substantial long-term investment for St. Mark’s.

After a successful fundraising year through the Annual Fund, and the UnGala, the school is able to substantially support this project through the operating budget, but that won’t pay for its entirety.  We asked for gifts specifically for the playground at the 2019 UnGala and Auction, when we announced a very generous match up to $100,000 from an anonymous donor. We were pleased to raise an additional $33,000.  At this time, we are asking for more community support to make this project the best that it can be.

Why are we taking out so many trees?

The current playground included the fast-growing Bald Cypress trees along the south side of the building, and among the prayer garden.  These handsome trees are actually native to river banks and tributaries, and are meant for areas with much more water. If you take a walk on our current field space, you will notice the knotty cypress “knees” popping up in multiple areas, causing bumps in our turf and creating a less than safe condition for play.

What about the prayer garden?

The reimagining of the play area included looking at the entirety of the outdoor footprint on this section of our campus.  Gabriel’s Garden is being relocated to a more central location, near the bell tower and courtyard. This change will allow for an increase of 1722 more square feet of play space in our design.

Will we be updating the Early Childhood playground?

We are excited to consider that possibility as well.  When we first approached the playground design, we considered making improvements to both spaces simultaneously this summer.  This proved to be logistically challenging, and it would have limited our summer offerings. Stay tuned for more information regarding this project!

Contact the Development Office

Lou Ellen Stansell

Lou Ellen Stansell

Director of Development