Bay de Verde school cel­e­brates com­ple­tion of bas­ket­ball court

Do­na­tion from phi­lan­thropist Sally John­son rec­og­nizes a decades-old good deed

The Compass - - Sports - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

It was 27 years ago that Sally John­son found her­self in a bit of a squeeze.

Work­ing with the provin­cial gov­ern­ment in craft de­vel­op­ment, she was in Bay de Verde on busi­ness. As she was get­ting ready to move on, the van she was driv­ing started sliding, com­ing to a stop with the nose of the ve­hi­cle hang­ing over a cliff. The ve­hi­cle was stuck, and go­ing in re­verse caused her van to inch a bit fur­ther over the edge.

“I was so scared,” John­son told staff and stu­dents at Tri­con El­e­men­tary last Wed­nes­day.

John­son was back in Bay de Verde to give back to the com­mu­nity and hon­our a lo­cal fam­ily that came to her aid.

Through a per­sonal do­na­tion from John­son, the widow of St. John’s busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist Paul John­son, Sally John­son cuts a cake made es­pe­cially for last Wed­nes­day’s cel­e­bra­tion at Tri­con El­e­men­tary. over $1,000 cov­ered the cost of bas­ket­ball nets on a new court. The pave­ment was pre­vi­ously paid for through a grant from an­other source.

Talk­ing about her har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Bay de Verde, John­son re­called be­ing wor­ried the ve­hi­cle was go­ing to fall over the cliff. She got out of the van and even­tu­ally found a woman, Win­nie Power, who said her hus­band could help out.

Even­tu­ally Wayne Power showed up. A group ef­fort in­volv­ing Wayne and his chil­dren re­sulted in get­ting the ve­hi­cle, with con­sid­er­able ef­fort, out of harms way. The kids were push­ing from un­der­neath at the front, as there was a small ridge be­low the van.

“Well, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said John­son, who didn’t even own the work ve­hi­cle she was driv­ing.

“I got out of that sit­u­a­tion, and I thought, ‘I have to do some­thing for this fam­ily,’ es­pe­cially be­cause those chil­dren … helped so much and they weren’t afraid. They were so brave.”

That op­por­tu­nity to give back to Bay de Verde came about serendip­i­tously. Tri­con El­e­men­tary teacher Gil­lian Noo­nan was at an em­broi­dery work­shop and hap­pened to sit next to John­son. When she brought up her job in Bay de Verde, John­son chat­ted with Noo­nan about her own his­tory with the town and her on­go­ing de­sire to give back to the com­mu­nity.

John­son ex­pressed an in­ter­est in mak­ing some sort of do­na­tion to the school in hon­our of the Power fam­ily, which led to talk of the need for bas­ket­ball nets.

“Re­mem­ber that if you have an op­por­tu­nity to pay it for­ward, it doesn’t take much,” John­son said to­wards the end of her ad­dress to stu­dents on June 14. “Some­times it’s just a hug, but it’s re­ally im­por­tant to ev­ery­body around you.”

No one from the Power fam­ily could at­tend last Wed­nes­day’s event at the school, though teacher Ni­cole Driscoll is the fi­ancée of Wayne Power Jr., one of the chil­dren who helped John­son 27 years ago.

PHOTOS BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Sally John­son, far right, claps af­ter cut­ting a rib­bon out­side Tri­con El­e­men­tary in Bay de Verde, where the new bas­ket­ball court was of­fi­cially opened. The John­son Fam­ily Foun­da­tion do­nated over $1,000 to cover the cost of two nets, rec­og­niz­ing an act by do-good­ers 27 years ago when John­son found her­self in a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion in the com­mu­nity. Stand­ing next to John­son is teacher Ni­cole Driscoll.

Stu­dents from Tri­con El­e­men­tary per­form their school chant to say thank you to Sally John­son.

Tri­con El­e­men­tary prin­ci­pal Wendy Clarke-Tiz­zard speaks to stu­dents while stand­ing next to Sally John­son.

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