Sunnyside Dream playground on track
Major work has begun on Sunnyside Elementary’s ‘dream’ playground project, nicknamed “Sunnyside Up”, thanks in part to the grant approvals that came through in July, representing an amount of a little over $40,000. The Ministry of education (MELS) will provide $23,000 while the ETSB has promised $16,000. Fundraising over the past years has also raised about $26,000.
“We had a bulldozer and a backhoe here in August. They carved out a valley and built a nice sliding hill for the kids. We’ve got the shape, now we need more features like some big boulders on one side of the hill for the students to play on. We’re also really thinking about planting trees this fall,” said the school’s principal, Steve Weary, in an interview with the Stanstead Journal.
The original project that was conceived a few years ago for a ‘natural’ play
space, a new concept in outdoor recreation areas for children, had a price tag of roughly $160,000. “We decided that we had enough money to really go ahead and get a good start and do a lot of the work. Benoit Tremblay, who has the heavy equipment, is providing great work for a great price, and we decided to use grass seed instead of sod. We also reduced the size of the soccer field to one elementary-sized field, but we’ll still have four goals in place. That will all save a lot of money. The staff and the kids are really excited, even though, right now, half of the playground is out of bounds,” said Mr. Weary. No new fundraisers for the playground project will be held this year. “We decided to see what we could do with what we have.” A playground specialist will oversee the project.
There are 121 students this year, exactly the same as last year. A new teacher, Mrs. Mc Kelvey who previously taught at Ayer’s Cliff Elementary, will replace Ms. Grey who is taking a maternity leave. The Phelps Helps after school tutoring program will return to the school and will surely be appreciated since the school’s government grant for after school tutoring, a different program that the school was running, has been cut. “This year we want to continue the emphasis on reading and comprehension. We tracked the scores of students last year and saw that 97% of our students improved their reading scores and 31% of the students gained more than one year of reading skills during the school year,” explained Mr. Weary, proud of his student’s accomplishments. “It’s so important not to just read to your child, but to talk about the story afterwards, question little details to see if the child understands the story,” he added.
“We’re planning to do the circus program again this year. The students will do another performance at the end of the year – last year they performed for a sold-out crowd! As always, we want the students to be proud of their school and of what they’re achieving. We want Sunnyside to be an important part of the community,” concluded Mr. Weary.
The Governing Board elections were held recently and the following parents are now on that committee: Miranda Elston, Chrystal Goodwin, Darlene Lussier, Jason Poitras and Amber Stremmelaar. Parents should feel free to contact them to discuss school issues.
Sunnyside principal Steve Weary on the bulldozer that transformed the playground in August.
Sunnyside principal Steve Weary beside the newly sculpted site that will be ready for the students to enjoy soon