Palatine elementary students bring their idea for a new park to the board

  • Some fifth- and sixth-graders from Virginia Lake Elementary School in Palatine presented their ideas for a new park Tuesday night. Here, they show their concepts up close as they walk by Palatine Park District board members.

      Some fifth- and sixth-graders from Virginia Lake Elementary School in Palatine presented their ideas for a new park Tuesday night. Here, they show their concepts up close as they walk by Palatine Park District board members. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Fifth- and sixth-graders from Virginia Lake Elementary School in Palatine presented their concepts for a new park Tuesday night to adults in charge of the project. They appeared before the Palatine Park District board.

      Fifth- and sixth-graders from Virginia Lake Elementary School in Palatine presented their concepts for a new park Tuesday night to adults in charge of the project. They appeared before the Palatine Park District board. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine Park District board President John "Jay" Cozza examines a proposed layout for a new park presented Tuesday night by fifth- and sixth-graders from Virginia Lake Elementary School in the village.

      Palatine Park District board President John "Jay" Cozza examines a proposed layout for a new park presented Tuesday night by fifth- and sixth-graders from Virginia Lake Elementary School in the village. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted2/12/2020 5:22 AM

Some fifth- and sixth-graders from Virginia Lake Elementary School in Palatine presented their ideas for a new park Tuesday night to adults in charge of the project.

Open space near Northwest Highway and Dundee Road in Palatine is known as Meadowlark Park. In 2013, the Palatine Park District board approved purchasing the vacant Camelot School's 12 acres for $1.7 million to tear it down for the green space, but work continues on a facility master plan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

At Tuesday's Palatine park board session, the Virginia Lake First Lego League team's presentation to the elected officials focused on making Meadowlark appealing to all ages. Meadowlark is at 1502 W. Northwest Highway, just east of Palatine Stables.

Using a main theme of castles, the fifth- and sixth-graders propose five sections at Meadowlark that would have targeted age groups from young children up to adults. The students' proposal would have equipment for children with disabilities in most sections.

Board members and other park officials received packets with the children's concepts for further review. As part of their presentation, the eight Lego Team OGEL members held poster boards with photographs and descriptions of each section while standing before the park board.

Sixth-grader Olivia Carro explained the benefits of having the park divided into five areas with equipment suitable for different age groups. One section would have a ninja warrior-style obstacle course found in other park systems, with another designated as an adult workout area.

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"Older kids like to run around a lot and waste energy, but so they don't run over younger kids, they can kind of be separate and have more challenges instead of just walking around being bored," Olivia said after the presentation.

Palatine Park District Executive Director Mike Clark said he was impressed with the children's organization and presentation.

"I think that they took a lot of elements that any park planner would have to consider, like serving people with disabilities and making sure that there's accessible equipment for them. So, I think they hit it out of the park. They gave us a report, so staff will definitely review that."

Steve Marquis, a Virginia Lake librarian and Lego team sponsor, said the students' Meadowlark proposal stems from a program challenge. The students had to identify a problems with buildings or land in their communities, then provide solutions.

Marquis said the Virginia Lake students from the beginning thought of Palatine's neighborhood parks for the First Lego League's City Shaper challenge. The children believed the parks mostly were designed for young children.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Three Palatine park officials were invited to meet the Virginia Lake students in the fall, Marquis said. The park representatives informed the kids about Meadowlark and asked them to assist in the design, which to their appearance at Tuesday's meeting.

"I love the variety that the kids came up with, not just a single little areas for kids to play in, but the idea that the kids came up with something that's more universal, that everybody can come," That's what one of their complaints was, their park was so boring."

Fifth-grader Samuel Wang said he enjoyed working on the Meadowlark Park proposal.

"My teammates and my coaches were really fun to work with," Samuel said.

"And they're good teammates, too."

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