BY LORNE ECKERSLEY
I am in awe of the ARES Parents’ Advisory Committee, which spearheaded the recent construction of an “Ecospace” in the northeast corner of the school grounds. A week ago Friday machinery moved in to prepare the grounds and by last Tuesday tons of rocks were in place, mounds of wood shavings were being spread around, a wooden arbour entry way was in place and parents and students had planted more than 150 shrubs and trees.
The spectacular pace of the project seemed even more impressive when I asked when the project was first discussed. That was in January, said Sarah Kapoor, one of the parent volunteers. January of 2017? Yep. Within six months of a discussion about creating an outdoor education area—a conversation that arose because some outdated playground equipment needed replacing—the group had raised the necessary funds, hired a design and construction coordinator, organized for the purchase and donation of services and materials and, as you will see if you take a drive past that section of the schoolyard, got ‘er done. Phase 1, that is. It seems that there is more to come.
The project ties in nicely with a recent Ministry of Education mandate to get students outside more often (and don’t you just love when bureaucrats come up with brilliant innovations in education?). The amphitheatre created by levels of large flat stones will make a great outdoor classroom, and the design is intended to introduce some nature into what recently was just another patch of lawn. Most of the plantings were chosen because they can be found in our natural landscape.
During the same week that construction on the ARES project began I drove out to Duck Lake to see a couple of classes of Canyon-Lister Elementary School students embark on a cleanup of roadside in the bird-filled area. Leading the way was a trio from the school’s very active environmental club, which only a week before had organized a march through town to raise awareness about the importance of clean water in our community.
CLES also has an outdoor learning area, and it clearly has had a valuable impact on getting students out of the classroom and appreciating the importance of our natural environment.
That trend is nothing new to Yaqan Nukiy School, where our own Chris Brauer wrote last year about his experience in taking a class—at the request of students—out into the forest on a rainy day.
It can’t be easy these days as educators try to accommodate the countless demands from the bureaucracy, public and parents, trying to stay current with lightning-quick technological and social changes, all the while dealing with students who simply don’t get out of doors as much they did when I was a kid. So congratulations to everyone who contributes to the effort.
More congratulations are in order to the volunteers who made Canada Day a success. It is a great sign of co-operation that the festivities this year were divided between Canyon Park and the Community Complex. I arrived at Canyon Park after completing a 20 km hike on Goat Mountain on Saturday morning to find a large crowd on hand to enjoy a fine summer’s day and a chance to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. It’s remarkable how the park has been transformed in recent years, due to tireless efforts by Deb Nelius and other resident volunteers. It must be very satisfying to see the park being put to such a good use.
Their efforts weren’t lost on newly elected Coun. Adam Casemore, who commented later that “I would like to thank all the volunteers who organized the event and the volunteers who make the park a beautiful place to visit and also recognize Ray Huss and Derek Todd of Malibu Construction for the excellent new facilities they built. Absolutely top shelf!” Nice when a member of a younger generation appreciates the efforts of people who work to make the Creston Valley a better place.
Finally, more thanks to the Creston Museum, and its continuing efforts to get people out and about. I recently took a trial run (walk, actually) along with a small group as one of the museum’s summer students, Elizabeth, in the guise of Miss Jessie Dow, took us for a downtown tour to illustrate how Creston looked a century ago. Miss Jessie was a delight, explaining that she was working at the museum while her time travel machine is being repaired, and expressing her surprise at the many changes the downtown core has seen over the years.
We do live in a wonderful place, don’t we?