Feature Story                                                                                                    Sunday June 24, 2012


Playing With Abandon 

Bernard Elementary will finally have it's new playground

Staff/Voice photos


MLA John Les presents an oversized cheque for $50,000 to Bernard Elementary school treasurer Maureen Curtis Tuesday.


ome people say that playing is the brain's favourite way to learn.


For two years, Bernard Elementary has been pinching pennies and holding fundraisers in a community-wide effort to replace their aged 25-year-old playground.


They've been diligently working at things like car washes, craft sales and even selling pizza. Chilliwack Ford pitched-in earlier this year when they held the Drive-A-Ford campaign at the school and that also helped to raise the needed funds.


At the end of two years, the school had approximately $42,000 to show for their efforts.

On Tuesday, MLA John Les came through with a $50,000 top-up to help make the playground a reality and presented an oversized cheque to Secretary-treasurer Maureen Curtis at the school.

"I just want to add my congratulations here to what this community of Bernard Elementary has done. That's really quite something," Les said. "It's also a very worthwhile project. You have a very old playground here. It definitely needs to be replaced. It's an important part of the school amenity."

"Maybe its going to make you want to stay in school the whole year and not go home after the end of June," Les quipped.

According to a BC Government Caucus release on Tuesday, an additional $3.3 million in playground funding has been provided to 80 schools across BC.

"This is the final phase of an $8 million playground funding commitment made by Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister George Abbott last September for elementary and middle schools in British Columbia. It brings the total number of schools benefiting from the two-year playground funding program to 227 across the province," stated the release.

Bernard Elementary School principal, Janine McCurdy couldn't have been happier.

"Its awesome, its great, its wonderful" McCurdy told the Voice, adding that they can finally see the light "at the end of the tunnel".

"The kids will really enjoy it. We'll be able to put in more playground components than we had planned and so I think we're going to be able to purchase something that will be able to meet the needs of all our intermediate students and it's going to be wonderful not only for our school, but also for our community around us."

Because of the additional government funding, McCurdy says they'll be able to upgrade the original plans and add more components like swings.

"I'm very excited. I think our students are going to be very happy and surprised when they return in September and hopefully everything is in place," McCurdy says.

Local dignitaries present included outgoing school district superintendent Dr. Michael Audet, school board trustees Heather Maahs and Martha Weins and Dale Churchill who is director of operations for the school as well as members of the PAC.

McCurdy said that because of the additional government money, they'll be able to go to the community looking for input on things they'd like to see added.

So teachers, staff, the Parent's Advisory Committee (PAC) and of course the kids, can now all forget about the struggle to raise cash and look forward to a playground that doesn't dish out splinters.

See more photos below.

Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice