New playground in the works for Sudduth Elementary

MSU landscape architecture students observe Sudduth Elementary students at recess to help come up with designs for a possible new playground at Sudduth. (Submitted photo)
Staff Writer

A group of citizens and students are making plans to create a state-of-the-art playground at Sudduth Elementary School.

Tuesday afternoon, a group of parents, Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District officials and students from the Mississippi State University Department of Landscape Architecture met to discuss new ideas for the playground. Some of the design ideas from the landscape architecture students are based on ideas from Sudduth Elementary students.

The project is part of Design Week in the MSU Department of Landscape Architecture, and student project presentations will take place Friday at the Bost Extension Center starting at 1 p.m. The Memphis-based Dalhoff Thomas Design firm is also involved. The idea was brought to MSU by the Health Task Team, a group of Sudduth parents focused on health and fitness at the school.

“It’s in a great spot,” said Sudduth parent and Health Task Team member Kenny Langley. “It’s a great playground as it is, but as much as it’s used, there’s just so much potential.”

Gregory said Sudduth had taken on a multi-faceted program for health and fitness for its students, including allowing them to play on the playground before the beginning of the school day, which led to a double-digit drop in discipline referrals.

However, Sudduth Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) President Jenn Gregory said completion was still a long way off.

“It will definitely be a slow process,” Gregory said.

The PTO plans to begin the project by raising funds for a more permanent fence to surround the playground and apply for grants.

“I think it’s very important to exercise the mind and the body,” said Sudduth Principal Elizabeth Mosley. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here."

Mosley voiced her support for the playground improvements.

“I was really impressed with what the MSU students and the children that go to school here came up with,” Mosley said. “I think that it will be great for the school and the community.”

Following the student design presentation Friday, community stakeholders will work with Dalhoff Thomas Design to make elements of the design a reality. The district will also explore the possibility of an official collective use agreement with the city of Starkville. During interviews with candidates for the empty school board seat at the Starkville Board of Alderman meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Lynn Spruill asked the candidates for their views on a joint use agreement for the playground and other district properties. All three were amicable.