EXPO Playground Updates

  • Summer 2020 Update

    After years of hard work and collaboration, the new Treasure Island is open for play! Thank you to all of the parents, teachers, community members and SPPS staff who came together to make this accessible, fun and engaging play space a reality.
    The new playground keeps the spirit of the former Treasure Island alive, with a pirate ship, cargo nets, decks and bridges that inspire imaginative play.
    Families are reminded to exercise caution while using the playground, including washing hands before and after playing and keeping at least 6 feet of social distance from others.

    Fall 2019 update and next steps

    On December 6, 2019, the EXPO Council of Parents and Teachers will discuss the fundraising progress for the playground to date, as well as next steps related to the playground design.

    Plans for EXPO Elementary's approved playground design were first shared to great success during the school's playground fundraising kick-off event on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

    Project Timeline

    The project schedule has been adjusted to better accommodate community participation, including fundraising to enhance the planned new EXPO playground. The existing Treasure Island Playground will remain in place through the 2018-2020 school years.

    During the summer of 2020 the new playground will be installed, assuming fundraising success in 2018 and 2019.

    EXPO Elementary's new playground design


    April 9, 2018

    Dear EXPO Elementary Families,

    Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and the EXPO Playground Design Committee is excited to unveil the design proposal for EXPO’s new playground.

    Join us at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 for the big reveal and fundraising kick-off event. Representatives from the EXPO Playground Design Committee and SPPS will be on hand to answer questions and discuss next steps. The parent-led Fundraising Committee will also be in attendance to provide updates and accept donations for the project.

    Last November, a design committee of school staff, community members, parents and SPPS Facilities design professionals began working together to craft a new vision for the play space. This community-guided design process provides an accessible, fun and engaging play space design that will serve the next generation of EXPO students, the surrounding community and the citizens of Saint Paul.

    We’re confident the new playground will continue the legacy of the much-loved Treasure Island. For 25 years the current play structure has provided exceptional play experiences to the students at EXPO Elementary and the greater Saint Paul Community. Now our new play space will provide years more of fun and represents what happens when a community comes together.

    If you have any additional questions, please call me at 651-290-8384.


    Darren Yerama, Principal
    EXPO for Excellence Elementary

    Student "Ideation Sessions"

    The photo gallery below features sketches of design ideas generated with students during Discovery Club "Ideation Sessions" at EXPO Elementary in late November 2017.

  • Playground Tours

    The design committee reconvened for a playground tour November 2, 2017, led by SPPS Playground Specialist Charlie Colvin.  The tour included three great playgrounds (see photo gallery below):

    • Inclusive Playground at Woodridge Park in Cottage Grove
    • Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area at Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Township
    • Wabun Picnic Area - Inclusive Playground in Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis

    SPPS Board of Education Vice Chair Zuki Ellis joined the committee on the tour.

    Interested EXPO community members are encouraged to visit Saint Paul Public Schools' most recently completed (fall 2017) playgrounds at:

    • Adams Spanish Immersion School – 615 Chatsworth St. S.,
    • Highland Park Elementary School – 1700 Saunders Ave., and
    • Horce Mann School – 2001 Eleanor Ave.
  • September 19, 2017

    Dear EXPO Families,

    For 25 years EXPO Elementary's playground,

    Treasure Island, has provided exceptional play experiences for our students and the surrounding community. Constructed and maintained through a unique partnership between the community, Saint Paul Public Schools and local businesses, Treasure Island has always been a great example of what happens when people come together on behalf of students and the community.

    While many great memories live in this wooden play structure, our beloved playground is now showing its age.  With close inspection, one can see the structural impact of time and weather.  In addition, we must acknowledge current safety guidelines for play structures and the importance of sightlines for supervision, as well as best practices for accessibility/inclusiveness.

    The school district has determined that it is time for a new playground at EXPO and has committed the time and resources to ensure this happens.  Knowing how close Treasure Island is to all of our hearts, a design engagement process is being created to ensure the future playground is a great fit for our school and community.  This process will be led by a Playground Design Committee.

    Next Steps: Playground Design Committee

    The Playground Design Committee will be composed of 8-10 members. 

    The committee is expected to include two people from the district’s Facilities Department, two school staff, and four to six volunteers representing EXPO’s families and community.  To ensure balanced representation, volunteers will be identified by EXPO’s Council of Parents and Teachers Board of Directors.

    Please contact Chair Megan Boldt Murphy (megmurphy79@comcast.net) directly if you would like to be considered for the committee.

    The next EXPO Council of Parents and Teachers Board of Directors meeting will be Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at 7 p.m.

    Anticipated Timeline

    The Playground Design Committee meetings will begin in October, with a final playground design completed by January 2018.

    The goal is to have the new playground open for the start of school 2018. Treasure Island will continue to be open until the end of the 2017-18 school year. While everyone involved recognizes Treasure Island will be missed, I am excited for EXPO’s new playground design process.  I look forward to continuing the tradition of offering a great playground at EXPO!

    For updates on the playground design process, visit our website: spps.org/expo.

    Darren Yerama
    EXPO for Excellence Elementary


  • Rosemary D. Dolata, AIA, LEED AP
    Project Manager
    Facilities Department
    Saint Paul Public Schools
    1930 Como Avenue, St. Paul


    The following members for the Playground Design Committee have been selected:

    EXPO Staff:
    Darren Yerama (school principal)
    Greta Foote

    SPPS Facilities Department staff:
    Rosemary Dolata
    Charlie Colvin

    Community Members:
    Nicole Celichowski
    Dan Elenbaas
    Pat McGuire
    Trevor Miller
    Jamie Parker