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Scout’s project brings new playground to St. Mark School

St. Mark School first-graders Trina Phan, left, Sasha Cranston, Marlo Whitfield and Grace Koves play on a climbing wall, part of a new playground that was the Eagle Scout project of St. Mark’s alum Connor Hogle. Photo: Courtesy St. Mark School St. Mark School first-graders Trina Phan, left, Sasha Cranston, Marlo Whitfield and Grace Koves play on a climbing wall, part of a new playground that was the Eagle Scout project of St. Mark’s alum Connor Hogle. Photo: Courtesy St. Mark School

SHORELINE – When Connor Hogle was an eighth-grader at St. Mark School, he embarked on a project to improve recess for the school’s students and earn his Eagle Scout rank.

“I wanted to make a new playground for them,” said Connor, a member of Boy Scout Troop 171 and now a sophomore at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett.

Connor Hogle
Connor Hogle earned his Eagle Scout rank after planning, designing and raising money for a new playground at his alma mater, St. Mark School in Shoreline. Photo: Marion Hogle

The old playset at St. Mark’s was about 25 years old, with some unsafe components that had to be removed, said Kathy Palmquist-Keck, principal at the Shoreline school. “It was ready to be torn down,” she said.

Connor pitched the idea of new playground equipment to Palmquist-Keck and Father David Mulholland, then pastor of St. Mark’s. They agreed, so Connor went to work.

He surveyed students about what they would like to see in a new playground, then helped design it, raised money for the new equipment and assisted with its installation in the fall of 2018. He earned his Eagle Scout in early March 2019 and now is his troop’s junior assistant scoutmaster.

“He organized the whole thing,” said Connor’s father, David Hogle, a St. Mark’s parishioner who is scoutmaster of Troop 171, based at Assumption and St. Bridget parishes in north Seattle.

Once Connor determined what students would like in their new playset, he contacted a playground manufacturer in Maple Valley and learned what it would cost: $47,000. That included two slides, a climbing wall, climbing bars, stepping stones, a pole and two basketball hoops.

To raise the funds, Connor talked with parishioners from the pulpit at the end of four weekend Masses. He also wrote a letter to the parents’ club, which donated $14,000; many of the parents had heard Connor’s plan when he spoke at the Masses, his father said. And St. Mark’s students raised $7,000 through a spell-a-thon, where donations were based on the number of words students could spell correctly.

Connor raised the remaining money in less than four months.

Connor Hogle
Eagle Scouts help remove the 25-year-old playset from the St. Mark campus. Photo: Marion Hogle

The old playground was demolished and the new equipment was installed in a wheelchair-accessible location, next to the school’s playfield. The equipment was professionally installed, but Connor and his fellow scouts installed a border for the playground. The new playground was blessed in October by Father Joseph Mitchell, St. Mark’s current priest administrator.

As part of the project, Connor learned about the process of getting the playground approved for use. A representative of the archdiocese inspected the play equipment, and Connor had to source new wood chips that complied with industry standards, he said.

“Within a half-hour of the wood chips being sprayed in, [the students] were playing,” Connor added.

The old wood chips were sent to a composting company and parishioners took the wood and metal components of the old equipment, which were sold for scrap, David Hogle said. Asphalt now covers the site of the old playground, providing additional parking during parish events.

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