Raft River Elementary School PAC has won $120,000 from the Aviva Insurance community fund to build the proposed Courtenay and Skye Buck Memorial Playground at the school.
The decision comes after a nationwide contest that saw the Raft River entry place in number one spot in the semi-final round, with an unofficial count of over 23,000 votes (proponents were allowed to make one voter per day).
A panel of independent judges made the final decision.
Clearwater’s entry was one of 10 out of 30 finalists to win a major prizes. The 10 shared $900,000 amongst them. The remaining 20 finalists received $5,000 each.
The official announcement was made Tuesday morning during a school assembly.
Principal Shaun McKenna played a video of that morning’s Canada AM television news program.
“Let’s give ourselves a huge cheer,” he told the students. “This is an exciting time.”
The principal predicted construction would begin as soon as the snow is gone in the spring.
PAC members Sam Braaten and Eleanor Collins also spoke to the assembly. They thanked a long list of people who contributed to the win, and especially the students.
“For a small community to achieve this is so amazing – number one in Canada,” said Collins.
“We emerged at the Little Town that DID!” commented PAC member Shelley Sim in an email to the Times. “Our inspiration was Skye and Courtney, our motivation was to pay tribute to their legacy and find a way to create something good out of such a tragic incident.”
“When we first started the journey, it seemed so farfetched to believe that our little community and our small parent advisory committee could ever achieve a winning position in the Aviva competition but it didn’t stop us from trying,” Sim added.
The playground will be in the rear of the school and designed for intermediate-aged students.
About half of the 320 students at Raft are in grades 4 – 7.
The school already has a playground for primary-aged students at the front of the building.
The space at the back of the school where the new playground will be located is mostly empty and largely unused.
The playground is to be named after Courtenay and Skye Buck, two young teachers who passed away in a motor vehicle accident just over one year ago. The couple had grown up in Clearwater. Courtenay was teaching at Raft River while Skye was at Clearwater Secondary School.