Sherbrooke Elementary gets new ways to play

Photo: Gordon Lambie
By: 
Gordon Lambie
Staff Writer

Sherbrooke Elementary School started off the 2015-16 school year with a few long-awaited additions to its school yard. After seven years of planning, fundraising, and preparations, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new equipment was held on Monday morning just after recess in the presence of the student body, school board officials, and a number of invited guests.

“Seven years ago I had a dream of creating an area where our older students could play and socialize during their free time, an area that would enhance our beautiful playground,” said SES Principal Anastasia Christodoulopoulous. “The creation of this playground is a project long in the making and we are now able to reap the benefits of all the hard work that went into the end results.”

At $85,000 to purchase and install, the changes to the schoolyard were not cheap, but it was also very clear that the new equipment is deeply appreciated. Three students from the school’s sixth grade welcomed the crowd to the inauguration of their new playground and described the additions to the visitors. The trio started by noting their appreciation for the new paved outdoor basketball court, around which the ceremony was being held, and finished with the large new play structure, mentioning the installation of new picnic tables along the way.

Christodoulopoulous went through a detailed thank-you list of people she saw as having been vital to the process of getting the changes made, naming teachers, school secretaries, parents, past Principal Peggy McCourt, members of parents committees, government representatives, the school board and the wider community.

“None of this would have been possible without all of the individuals I have mentioned,” the principal said. “There is no way we could have done this if we weren’t working together.”

Luc Fortin, Sherbrooke’s Member of the National Assembly, was also at the ceremony in recognition of the fact that the provincial government made a $25,000 contribution to the project.

“This investment is linked directly to children’s developing academic success,” Fortin said, noting the importance of the government’s program providing funding for school play grounds. “Research shows that active children do better in school, are better able to concentrate, and even exhibit fewer behavioural problems.”

Though the event was a celebration and treated as such, many of the teachers in attendance came wearing black t-shirts bearing the “Holding it together” emblem around which the province’s teaching unions have rallied as a pressure tactic in the ongoing response to the Liberal Government’s proposed changes to the educational system. Fortin at first joked to The Record that he hadn’t noticed the move, but then acknowledged the shirts as a very reasonable means of expressing a message of discontent.

“What we always want as the government is to arrive at a negotiated agreement with all public sector employees,” the MNA said, “but we do not negotiate in the public sphere, and we want everything to be done in the best interest of the students.”

That having been said, Fortin said that in touring the classrooms prior to Monday’s ceremony he detected no animosity or ill will and added that he didn’t feel the political climate had in any way had a negative impact on the day’s celebrations.

“We need to make these decisions in relation to what Quebecers are able to pay,” Fortin said. “On that we will not compromise.”

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