One year ago the families of North Otter Elementary school were devastated by the news that their children’s playground had been condemned and fenced off.
Age had taken its toll and an act of vandalism over the summer had put it over the edge. A parent volunteer had stepped up to rebuild the platform last September but the playground equipment’s days were numbered.
The Parents Advisory Council president, Natalie Franklin, told The Star that estimates for replacing the equipment with a new installation were a daunting challenge as $80,000 seemed almost impossible for a small school of 180 families.
“We started fundraising in January, we hit the pavement, and it was intense,” Franklin said.
“We did not want it to take years. And we understand that the school district doesn’t have any money for this. But it just snowballed, and by April we’d raised $85,000.”
The first corporate sponsor to step up was Milt Kruger of On Line Collison in Langley, which had previously sponsored a new playground at Alex Hope Elementary in 2013.
“Milt really believes play matters, his own kids had enjoyed their school playgrounds. He gave us $15,000,” said Franklin.
Others quickly followed, with Aldergrove and Langley Central Rotary Clubs providing $10,000, JD Farms with another $5,000, and Super Save Gas with $18,000. Rempel Bros. Concrete also donated the delivery of the concrete needed for footings.
“We also received a donation in memory of (the late) Colton Nelson, who was a former North Otter student and player with Aldergrove Minor Hockey Association. His mother, Brenda, heard about our plight and wanted to help out,” said Franklin.
“Langley School District also helped us out with new ground cover for the playground. And with all this support we were able to build two playgrounds, a small one with two swings in front of the school for the Kindergarten and daycare children and the larger one at the back for the primary students.”
With the funding secured, a volunteer crew of three dozen set to work this past Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. sharp, and before noon both sets of equipment were in place and ready for the concrete pumper trucks that afternoon.
A formal dedication ceremony will be held at the school on Friday, September 25 and several memorial plaques will be unveiled. Three food trucks have donated their services for this event.
“The community really came together for this playground and we built the best playground we could,” said Franklin. “A playground that families can enjoy year-round.”
In spite of high winds and rains the volunteer crew started preparing the North Otter Elementary site at 7:30 a.m. on August 29 and by noon were ready for the ready-mix trucks.