Chemainus Elementary School students could hardly contain themselves waiting for their new playground to become operational.
The long wait finally ended in late October and the official grand opening Monday brought together students, staff and community members to celebrate. Grade 6 student Otis Birch cut the ribbon alongside principal Brenda Stevenson and vice principal Ashley Bell.
“This was a community effort and we all played a part in making this happen for our children,” said Parent Advisory Council co-chair Julie Pimentel.
Around $15,000 of the total $70,000 cost to purchase the playground equipment resulted from donations, with the rest coming from fundraising that took a concerted effort over a long period of time.
The old playground equipment had long become worn and needed to be replaced, swinging the school community into action to make it happen under the direction of the Chemainus Elementary PAC.
Even at that, with Cowichan Valley School District 79 bearing the cost of installation, there was a waiting period before that could happen.
But all’s well that ends well and the children couldn’t be happier with the great new play space and equipment suitable for Kindergarten through Grade 5s, with larger swings and equipment still in place at the back of the school more for the Grade 6s and taller kids.
“This morning is an exciting time for our school community,” Stevenson told the students. “We are deeply grateful to students, family, staff, the school district and members of the community – especially PAC.”
Trustee Barb De Groot was there to represent the school board.
During the summer, the district started to prepare the site and install the equipment.
“It was exciting as we watched our playground come to life,” said Stevenson. “We now have an amazing playground to play on and build memories on.”
The PAC literally worked years to make the playground a reality.
“I’d say the last three or four years have been the most intense,” noted Pimentel.
Major community supporters included: the Chemainus Fire Department; Chemainus Rotary Club; Duncan Dabber Bingo Society; 49th Parallel Grocery; and Coast Capital insurance. Many other businesses made contributions of some sort.
“It got a little emotional,” Pimentel indicated. “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of events, a lot of money to raise for our school.”
Now that it’s done, everyone can agree it was well worth it.
“It sure has boosted the school spirit,” noted PAC co-chair Leanne Plester.
“The community of Chemainus, everyone’s been wonderful,” added Pimentel. “This happened because of the community of Chemainus.”
Both praised Stevenson and the staff under her direction for the strong support of everything the PAC did.
“It is an amazing staff here,” Plester noted.
Birch suggested doing a survey to see if staff would be interested in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for opening the playground. For that, they thought it was only appropriate he got to do it.