On Oct. 13, 2020 the Fort Saskatchewan Catholic Schools Parent Society announced another donation towards the construction of a new playground at St. John Paul II catholic junior high school, putting them into the home stretch of their fundraising goal.
In 2018, when EICS underwent a district restructuring with the addition of a new high school, St. John Paul II school was converted from a high school into a junior high. This left the incoming junior high students without an appropriate play area. Since the restructuring Elk Island Catholic Schools, the local parent society has been working hard to raise the money needed to to ensure that the children at St. John Paul II have a fun, safe space to play.
“Having a new playground is going to affect the students immensely,” said Rob Stecyk, Principle of St. John Paul II. “Research shows that play benefits student learning. Right now in the current pandemic situation, we have our students and our classes going outside more now than ever, but we’re limited in what we can do. You can only kick a soccer ball around or throw a football around so much before the interest levels start to decline, so to have the playground apparatus out there will not only help our students but also help the community in the off hours of the school. The surrounding residents in this area are going to benefit from that playground as well.”
The $61,500 grant awarded by the Alberta provincial government to the parent society on Oct. 13 was the Community Facility Enhancement Program grant, which provides financial assistance to community groups to build, purchase, repair, renovate, upgrade or expand public-use community facilities. Fort Saskatchewan/Vegreville MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk was in attendance to present the grant.
“The grant will help build the playground here in Fort Saskatchewan at St. John Paul II catholic school,” said Armstrong-Homeniuk. “It will attract kids in the community to come play, there’s a beautiful ball diamond next to the school here so the playground will just add to the actual school grounds. It’s great to see this happening here in the community and I’m looking forward to the grand opening.”
The parent society has been applying for grants and holding fundraising events for over two years in preparation for the build.
“Last summer we had a big family carnival in Legacy Park, unfortunately we weren’t able to do that this year due to Covid,” said Amber Eastman, vice-chair of St. John XXIII school parent society. “The kids have also had a bake sale that they put towards the park because they’ve been trying to help us out, they want this a lot, and we’ve done bottle drives and parent night fundraisers. The kids right now are getting excited to not be playing on a tarmac.”
The parent society is now nearing their fundraising target and are looking for more community help to reach their goal.
“We’re getting very close to our goal, and we’re hoping to build in the spring, but we haven’t quite gotten there yet. We’re hoping to find some more community involvement or grants that are available in the community that we can apply for.”
The parent society’s next fundraiser for the playground is a bottle drive at St. John Paul II school on Nov. 8 from 11 am – 3 pm. Residents that wish to get involved with the fundraising efforts are encouraged to email email@example.com.