School with­out play­ground

All Hal­lows fa­cil­ity deemed un­fit by school board

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Be­fore a cou­ple of weeks ago, the young students at All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River would keep one eye on the clock above the class­room door­way and the other on the play­ground out­side.

They would eagerly await the time when the bell would ring and they would be re­leased from their classes, free to once again run wild and free amongst the play­ground equip­ment.

The equip­ment may not have been in the best of shape, but the seats on the swings were brand new, hav­ing been pro­vided by the school coun­cil , and any­thing could serve as an out­let for their en­ergy.

Now, all that ex­ist are swings with­out seats and the ghosts of re­cess’ past. A teeter- tot­ter and the swi n g s e t h a d to be re­moved from the site.

The Eastern School Board has con­demned the play­ground at All Hal­lows. A rul­ing that was laid down at a June 6 school coun­cil meet­ing.

“The safety of our students is a pri­or­ity of the Eastern School Dis­trict,” the board said in a state­ment sent to The Com­pass.

Colleen Pet­ten is the pres­i­dent of the All Hal­lows school coun­cil. She said the play­ground has been an on­go­ing is­sue for the last year.

“We weren’t happy with the play­ground be­fore­hand,” said Pet­ten.

Chil­dren at the school had been us­ing the play­ground de­spite it not be­ing in the best of con­di­tions.

“It re­ally wasn’t good to be­gin with,” said Pet­ten, whose daugh­ter Maya is in Grade 4.

When the writ­ten de­ci­sion came from the school board, she said she found it “dis­turb­ing as a par­ent.”

“No rea­son the kids can’t have a play­ground,” said Pet­ten. “It doesn’t seem right. This isn’t a have-not area.”

With healthy liv­ing get­ting a push in schools over the last cou­ple of years, a play­ground is the last thing you’d think would get the axe.

For All Hal­lows, the over 400 students now have lim­ited op­tions when it comes to out­side ac­tiv­ity.

It’s ei­ther the ball field that lies ad­ja­cent to the school or the park­ing lot, ac­cord­ing to Pet­ten.

“Who wants their kid play­ing on

the park­ing lot?” she said.

Par­ents not happy

Pet­ten said the par­ents at All Hal­lows are not happy with the de­ci­sion to close the play­ground. The play­ground was not ideal, but it was some­thing.

Pet­ten’s daugh­ter has two more years left at the school and she is ded­i­cated to mak­ing sure that there is a new play­ground in place be­fore Maya moves onto Amal­ga­mated Academy.

Who is pay­ing?

The school board does n o t d i re c t l y f u n d the re­place­ment of play­grounds and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion equip­ment, ac­cord­ing to the pre­pared state­ment.

But, it does not dis­cour­age other means.

“Up­grades to the play­ground could cer­tainly be un­der­taken by the school community or through an out­side or­ga­ni­za­tion,” it said.

Pet­ten said the coun­cil has taken aim at fundrais­ing the money for a new fa­cil­ity, but it is “no small pur­chase.”

She said the group has not yet ap­proached the school board about its plans to pos­si­bly fund a new play­ground.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

The play­ground at All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River has been con­demned and shut down by the Eastern School Dis­trict.

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