École North Oyster Elementary is being awarded $100,000 to put towards a new accessible playground after winning one the three BCAA PlayHere contest prizes.
Voting results were announced early Thursday morning on Global TV.
The rural Ladysmith school was among 10 finalist vying for the prize and consistently led through the last days of the contest with upwards of 75,000 votes in the end.
Students, North Oyster PAC members and children were outside on the existing playground for the live television broadcast this morning but also weren’t aware of the final tally as they waited anxiously.
“It was huge. Even though we were ahead they were spending a couple days reviewing the results so we didn’t know forsure,” said principal Jacqueline Dunn describing the excitement of winning the contest. “Everyone started cheering and screaming. The childrens’ faces lit up and it was so awesome. The feeling was just unreal.”
Current equipment at the Cedar Road school was overrun in 2014 when the closing of École Davis Road and subsequent amalgamation meant the student population grew from 80 to over 300.
North Oyster, which is the school district’s only dual-track school providing French Immersion and English programs, is now expecting enrollment of 340 students come September.
Early indications are that construction of the new playground could begin as early as this summer with a slide and grassy mound being one of the first pieces to be installed.
North Oyster’s PAC has already raised $35,000 that can also go towards the playground.
They are hoping to meet with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District next week and move the project along as soon as possible.
Dunn said they were “blown away” from all the support received for the school and credited the PAC for all their work in making this dream happen.
“We’re from a special community and we knew we had the support and are so grateful for that,” she said.
“I had no idea we would do this well, and winning, and to see that so support was so amazing. We’re just so thankful for everyone who jumped on board and helped us achieve this.”