A North Delta elementary school is closer to getting a new playground thanks, in part, to the dance moves of its students.
On Nov. 18, Jarvis Traditional Elementary’s Parent Advisory Council held a fundraiser event at the Riverside Signature Banquet Hall in Surrey, featuring students performing traditional dances.
The event was to raise funds for the construction of a new playground, a project that will be fund-matched by the Corporation of Delta once the school raises half of the amount needed.
The project should be completed within the next two years and will cost between $60,000 and $70,000.
Principal John Mann and vice-principal Niels Nielsen said schools these days have to get creative with their fundraising, however, money is not the driving factor of their events or at least they don’t want it to be.
“This is a culturally relevant community gathering, right? So that’s important for us to do,” Mann said. “A bingo night might not be the right fundraiser.”
Jarvis Traditional Elementary students perform for guests at a fundraiser for the school's new playground on Nov. 18. Photo credit: Bryan McGovern
On his way to the event, Nielsen recalled how surprised he was when he arrived at Jarvis to learn a large portion of the kids there dedicate their off-school time to dancing, something he hadn’t seen in schools he had previously taught at.
The principals said there isn’t a larger renovation plan for Jarvis. Instead, they consider the needs of the school on a project-by-project basis.
“By the time you’re done that playground you’re basically starting on the next playground or another big project like that,” Nielsen said.
The fundraiser included auctions for the opportunity to spend a day as either principal and vice principal at Jarvis. What started as a friendly competition became a full-on bidding war between two tables on opposite sides of the room. In the end, the winner paid $1,000 for a shot at the principal’s chair.
Jarvis PAC president Stephen Platzer said he’s disappointed with the provincial government’s promises in regards to increases in resources for education given small schools like this have to resort to these types of events.
“We shouldn’t have to raise money for a playground for our kids’ school. That’s ridiculous,” said Platzer, who is also a teacher in Richmond.
“The parents are more than willing to help out, but it can’t just land on the parents and that’s why you need the community as a whole to help pitch in with the school,” he said.
Platzer said more affluent communities like West Vancouver could rely solely on donations for similar needs, but that approach doesn’t necessarily work at schools like Jarvis.
Instead, he said, the key to success is to follow Mann and Nielsen’s example and build a sense of community among the parents.
“Everything we’re trying to do here is to bring in everybody to help them understand that if we all add a little bit, we can make the school much better,” Platzer said.