IN LOVING MEM­ORY

North River com­mu­nity park a bee­hive of ac­tiv­ity a week af­ter com­ple­tion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NICHOLAS MERCER AND TERRY ROBERTS

— Alice Mur­phy (cen­tre) is con­soled dur­ing a mov­ing cer­e­mony on the grounds of All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River on Satur­day, June 8. A new com­mu­nity park was named in hon­our of her son, Cpl. Jamie Mur­phy, who was killed in ac­tion in Afghanistan in Jan­uary 2004. Pic­tured with her are Sgt. James But­ler (left) of the Royal Cana­dian Reg­i­ment, and Lt.Gov. Frank F. Fa­gan.

Com­ing around the cor­ner to the rear of All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River on a week­day af­ter­noon last week, the scene that greets you is truly up­lift­ing.

Look­ing up, you can see chil­dren zip­ping around the new Cor­po­ral Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy Com­mu­nity Park, bounc­ing from one play struc­ture to the other.

Each child car­ries with them a smile as wide as an ocean.

They are shout­ing to their friends to come try this one, or join them in a rous­ing game of tag, or some other chil­dren’s pas­time.

Th­ese are the sounds of chil­dren be­ing chil­dren, some­thing that was re­stored when the im­pres­sive park was com­pleted on June 8 in a mov­ing dis­play of com­mu­ni­ties com­ing to­gether.

“It’s just amaz­ing,” Grade 4 stu­dent An­drew Tuck said on Wed­nes­day evening, a smile light­ing up his face. An­drew’s favourite new piece of equip­ment is the im­pres­sive and very unique rope dome, or what has been lo­cally dubbed “The Cod Trap,” said to be the first of its kind in the prov­ince.

It takes a vil­lage

In a show of com­mu­nity spirit and pride that some say was un­prece­dented and heart­warm­ing, more than 600 adults, stu­dents and spe­cial guests as­sem­bled on the school grounds June 8 for “build day,” a day-long process that felt just as much like a fes­ti­val as it did a con­struc­tion pro­ject.

It was the cli­max of many months of fundrais­ing and plan­ning by a core group of some 20 par­ent vol­un­teers and school staff mem­bers, led by co-chairs and par­ent vol­un­teers Ed­die Rus­sell of Clarke’s Beach and Vin­cent Daw­son of Cupids.

Ac­tiv­i­ties be­gin around 8 a.m., with hun­dreds of peo­ple don­ning spe­cial t-shirts and head­ing to the work­site (adults) to col­lect a shovel, rake, wheel­bar­row or wrench, while many dozens of chil­dren made their way to the soc­cer field for a day of ac­tiv­i­ties.

There was a mas­sive bar­be­cue and the en­tire event was broad­cast live over the In­ter­net, with view­ers from through­out North Amer­ica send­ing wishes of sup­port through an in­ter­ac­tive chat op­tion.

As t h e day pro­gressed , t he mood ap­peared to change as the fi­nal loads of stone were shov­elled into place, and the ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony ap­proached. There was a feel­ing of rev­er­ence in the air as dig­ni­taries be­gan to ar­rive, and the true weight of what was about to take place set­tled in.

Bag­piper Blake Cran­ford led a group of spe­cial guests around the school as hun­dreds took their seats. Among the guests was Alice Mur­phy of Con­cep­tion Har­bour, the mother of Cpl. Jamie Mur­phy, who was killed dur­ing a sui­cide bomber at­tack on his ve­hi­cle on Jan. 27, 2004. He was the first New­found­lan­der kil led dur­ing the war in Afghanistan. He was 26 year­sof- age, and a mem­ber of the Royal Cana­dian Reg­i­ment.

With a chill in the air, two mem­bers of Jamie’s reg­i­ment, Sgt. James But­ler and Mas­ter Cpl. Al­lan King, re­moved a cov­er­ing from a mas­sive sign at the en­trance to the park, iden­ti­fy­ing the site as the Cor­po­ral Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy Com­mu­nity Park. The sign fea­tures a cut-out im­age of Cpl. Mur­phy that was taken in Afghanistan, not long be­fore his death.

The un­veil ling re­leased a wave of emo­tion, with Alice Mur­phy be­ing con­soled by Sgt. But­ler and Lt.- Gov. Frank F. Fa­gan.

Cpl. Mur­phy’s niece, Kearsty Ryan, spoke on the be­half of the Mur­phy fam­ily.

“He was my hero. He loved play­ing games, from soft­ball to some games I’m not sure I know the name of. I know he would have loved this park and would have been the first per­son out with each child to make them smile.”

Emo­tional day

When asked what the build­ing of the park meant for the chil­dren of the re­gion, Rus­sell strug­gled to con­tain his emo­tions.

“This is some­thing else,” he said. “To see this many peo­ple come to­gether in one day … and see it come to fruition to­day, it is emo­tional.

“I’m proud of ev­ery­one.” Added Prin­ci­pal Kevin Giles: “The boys and girls in this re­gion, in this school, in all of th­ese com­mu­ni­ties de­serve what they’re get­ting to­day. As good as what any boy or girl would get in the coun­try. That’s been my goal, and my hope and my wish all of the years that I’ve been here.”

In the mid­dle of the cer­e­mony, the All Hal­lows choral col­lec­tion sang an orig­i­nal tune en­ti­tled “We Have the Chance of Our Lives.”

It was a re­flec­tion on what it means to the stu­dents to have a new play park to en­joy dur­ing the com­ing re­cess breaks and lunch hours for years to come.

“This park is great,” said Grade 6 stu­dent Jonah Rod­way, who spoke on be­half of stu­dents at the kinder­garten to Grade 6 school.

“All of the new equip­ment will be fun to try out and play on.”

Mem­ory gar­den

An­other fea­ture of the new park is the mem­ory gar­den. Prin­ci­pal Giles said ad­di­tional do­na­tions were pour­ing in all last week from peo­ple wish­ing to have their loved ones re­mem­bered in the gar­den.

The park has been a boon for the school as well. Al­though there is a soc­cer field ad­ja­cent to the school, stu­dents were limited in their ac­tiv­ity choices .

“It’s been a phe­nom­e­nal boost,” said Giles. “It’s a pos­i­tive thing for our school and school com­mu­nity.”

The to­tal in­vest­ment into the pro­ject is es­ti­mated at some $200,000, and fu­ture phases are be­ing dis­cussed.

Some $100,000 was raised lo­cally through cor­po­rate do­na­tions, grants and fundraisers, while the Let Them Be Kids foun­da­tion is match­ing, dol­lar-for-dol­lar, all funds raised for the pur­chase of play­ground equip­ment.

Prior to the con­struc­tion of the new play park, the play­ground at All Hal­lows was in rough shape. The site had been con­demned by the Eastern School Dis­trict last year, and was only re­opened last spring, al­beit with a limited amount of equip­ment avail­able to chil­dren.

This was fol­low­ing a spir­ited ef­fort by a group of par­ents and school staff.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca1

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

The chil­dren of All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary had been wait­ing all day for the chance to use the new pieces of play equip­ment. When they fi­nally got the chance to do so, they ex­ploded in a scene of en­er­getic chaos as they scram­bled to use ev­ery­thing at their dis­posal.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

The com­pleted Cor­po­ral Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy Com­mu­nity Park as seen from the roof of All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

The fam­ily of Cpl. Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy (from left) sis­ter Norma Mur­phy, sis­ter Rose­mary Ryan and mother Alice Mur­phy. Be­hind them are Mas­ter Cpl. Al­lan King (left) and Sgt. James But­ler (cen­tre) and Kearsty Ryan, Mur­phy’s niece.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

The All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary fid­dle group en­ter­tained the crowd dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Kearsty Ryan, the niece of Cpl. Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy, spoke on be­half of the Mur­phy fam­ily at the ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Mas­ter Cpl. Al­lan King (left) and Sgt. James But­ler sa­lute the pic­ture of Cpl. Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy as the sign com­mem­o­rat­ing the com­mu­nity park is un­veiled. Vol­un­teers as­sem­ble the im­pres­sive rope dome, or as it has be­come known lo­cally, “the Cod Trap.”

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

While the adults were build­ing the play­ground and mem­ory gar­den, stu­dents were busy play­ing sports and other games on the soc­cer pitch. Here, Kyle Fowler ( left) and Tyson Kennedy cel­e­brate af­ter scor­ing a goal in soc­cer.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Par­ent vol­un­teer Calvin Snow meau­res some lum­ber to be used in the con­struc­tion of pic­nic ta­bles.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Ivan Batten en­sures the stone around the new swing set is level.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Vol­un­teers, chil­dren and com­mu­nity of­fi­cials watch as the sign is un­veiled.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Par­ent vol­un­teer Mike Hur­ley (left) of North River marches with a shovel over his shoul­der as Cory Keefe of Clarke’s Beach mo­tors along in a skid-steer car­ry­ing a bucket of sand.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Bay de Grave Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment Fire Chief Jeremy Hall (cen­tre) works along­side Sgt. James But­ler (left) and Mas­ter Cpl. Al­lan King at the top of the rope dome. But­ler and King are mem­bers of the Royal Cana­dian Reg­i­ment and are based at CFB Gage­town, NB.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Plan­ning com­mit­tee co-chair­man Ed­die Rus­sell was the mas­ter of cer­e­monies for the ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Par­ent vol­un­teer Craig Mor­ris­sey gives the “thumbs-up” as he se­cures the swings in place.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Mem­bers of the Bay de Grave Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment were among the hun­dreds of vol­un­teers who helped con­struct the im­pres­sive new com­mu­nity park.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Com­mit­tee mem­bers Vin­cent Daw­son (fore­ground) of Cupids and Jamie Mor­gan of Clarke’s Beach are seen lay­ing sods.

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