UPPER ISLAND COVE, N.L.
St. Peter’s Elementary principal John Drover remembers when there used to be a ballfield and small playground for kids like himself just behind the Upper Island Cove school, but that was back in the 1980s.
These days, Drover has plenty of reason to be optimistic about his students’ chances of getting a playground to call their own in the not-too-distant future. With ample community support behind the project and the necessary funds just about in place, he expects the playground will open by June of next year.
“There’s been a focus from an educational point of view on outdoor play, so it’s something we’ve been challenged with,” Drover told The Compass. “It’s something that we’re really looking forward to — having this addition.”
The latest news on the project comes courtesy of the Aviva Community Fund, which announced Tuesday, Nov. 20, that the school’s playground proposal will be among 50 projects from across Canada to receive a $10,000 grant. Members of the public were required to vote in order to make the proposal a success. Drover credits teacher Sheri Carpenter for identifying the Aviva opportunity.
“It’s good to see the support from our school community,” he said.
According to the school administrator, talk of setting up a playground for students has been ongoing for several years. Eventually, the municipal government agreed to get involved, offering the vacant piece of land behind the school for the project. The town repaired the surrounding fence with the understanding the school would spearhead efforts to get the necessary funding for playground equipment. It also cleaned up the field and is now installing an accessible walkway for the play area.
“We’ve got our mind set on a small play area-soccer field and then the other section will be a playground,” Drover explained.
On the financial side, the playground fund has already attracted a $10,000 contribution from the provincial government, and over the summer the Hickman Automotive Group agreed to match funds raised by the project’s supporters up to $25,000. Drover said the school community has raised half that amount thus far. An upcoming fundraiser aims to sell 1,000 cold plates, with proceeds supporting the playground.
“We’re hoping we’re going to raise the (rest of the) $25,000 by Christmas,” Drover said, adding that planning for the playground would then begin early in the new year.