Upper Arlington City Schools News Article

Wickliffe says goodbye to castle playground, looks ahead to community build

The school community gathered for a photo around the castle playground“The big toy is more than a playground. It’s where the imagination lives.” 

Through the eyes of Wickliffe Progressive Elementary School students, as well as those who played a role in its creation 34 years ago, there is magic in their beloved castle playground, also affectionately known as the big toy. They gathered together — the first generation and the final generation of the castle playground, and others in between — to share their memories and bid farewell to the big toy during the final week of the school year.

Retired Wickliffe teacher Bill Richards attended the town hall farewell along with some of his former students who were in his fifth grade class when the castle playground was built. Those former students are now adults, and some have children of their own who attend Wickliffe or have come to play and imagine at the castle playground.

“We didn’t build that playground for the kids and the community of 1989,” he shared. “We built it for the kids that would be here and the families that would be here in 1999, for the families that would be here in 2009. We built it for the kids and the families who would be here in 2019, and yes, we built it for the kids and the families who would be here in 2024 — because that’s what education does, you build for the future.”

This Sunday, May 26, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., there will be another opportunity for Wickliffe alumni, community and neighbors to gather together to share their memories and take a last picture with the castle before demolition begins on May 29.  

Thanks to initial fundraising efforts by a team of school and community volunteers, the new playground has already begun to take shape, with spinners and swings installed in the spring. This summer will bring the next phase of the collaborative vision for the playground, as a new play structure will be installed, thanks to funding from Upper Arlington Schools. Just as was done in 1990 with the castle playground, members and friends of the Wickliffe school community will come together again to help build a new playground for the next generation of Wickliffe Wolves. The community build will take place over two days this summer — June 27 and June 28 — and there are still opportunities to volunteer to be part of the build and leave your mark on the Wickliffe community.

The team of volunteers are continuing to fundraise for the final phase of the project, which will include Earthscape play structures and help bring the unique personality of the Wickliffe community to the playground. 

To learn more about the Wickliffe Woods project, or to make a financial contribution, please visit www.wickliffeplayground.com

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