Dear St. Bernadette Parents,
We have made it to the end of the 2019/2020 school year!
This year brought us many accomplishments as a community; as well it brought us – and the rest of the world around us – perhaps more than our fair share of challenges. Through it all our solidarity with one another remained – and even shone brighter in our times of most need. While we began in September with so much promise and the new year saw us gain momentum in our plans as a school community, our school year did not end with “business as usual”. As such, I would like to share with you where we are at in some key areas, as follows –
At the start of the 2019/2020 school year, we had set a fundraising goal of $30,000. As a PEC we planned to use our fundraising proceeds in the areas of School Technology and Athletics (specifically for safety padding in the gym), and to purchase a new portable PA/sound system to replace our current one that is already breaking down and becoming increasingly unreliable in our school events. In October, the Parent Support Group (PSG) generously sponsored the purchase of the safety padding in the gym from their own funds. We were on track with our fundraising and preparing to launch our biggest fundraiser of the year – our Walkathon – upon our return from spring break but as you know, schools did not reopen and all fundraising was halted for the year. In the end, we raised just under $11,000 (about one-third of our fundraising goal) from the Fall Social, Fall Clothing Drive, Christmas Purdy’s/Gift Cards, Lights of Hope, Family Bingo Night and Family Movie Night. Our remaining fundraising events would have been the Walkathon, Spring Clothing Drive and Year End BBQ. With the amount we raised we were able to purchase new Chromebooks, which helps augment our technological resources as we prepare for what school might look like in September 2020. The PEC has deferred the remaining funds (about $2,000) to next year, still for the purchase of a much-needed new portable PA system.
Looking ahead, we are hoping to hold a Clothing Drive over the summer, provided health/safety restrictions will allow it and If we are able to make the necessary arrangements. Any further information on this will be shared on our school’s social media channels, so please keep an eye out for that. We do not know yet how exactly our children will be returning to school in the fall, but the PEC will determine closer to that time if we are able to hold any other fundraising events in a manner that will comply with the health authority measures in place, and ensure everyone’s safety.
School Building, Facilities and Grounds
This year we were able to improve safety in a few areas around the school. As mentioned, the PSG helped the school in the purchasing of the safety padding in the gym. As well, we made long-overdue improvements in our landscaping particularly in the playground area. This not only helps minimize possible injuries from the branches of dead/dried up bushes and eroded soil, it also allows our staff/parents to have proper sightlines during playground supervision – to see children on the top field, in the playground, and in the basketball area. This is a safety requirement that needed to be addressed and we are happy we were able to do it this year. Watering, weeding and other related maintenance work to care for our new landscaping will be done by parent volunteers over the summer. We are not yet able to confirm if there will be Work Bees taking place over the summer, but should there be any, information will be sent out via the OnVolunteers portal.
Inside the school, we completed a much needed replacement of all our window coverings, to cordless blinds in all classrooms, offices and the Learning Commons. All window blinds are now in proper working order; as well, having no cords hanging with reach removes yet another risk to students, particularly in the primary classrooms. There are still a few other areas inside the school that need non-safety related improvement, but we will wait until the required seismic upgrades are completed so as not to double up on any work/cost. Preparations for the major construction work needed in our school building are still underway, and updates will be provided as they become available.
As you may remember from previous years, a number of PEC positions can become vacant at the end of each school year.
Elections/appointments for vacant PEC positions usually take place in May and new committee roles are assigned in June for the coming school year. This year, due to the school disruptions caused by the pandemic, the CISVA Board of Directors has postponed the PEC elections to the fall and all current PEC members have been asked stay on the committee until at least September, tentatively. We are still awaiting further instructions on the recruitment and election/appointment of new PEC members and we will communicate the new guidelines when we receive them. In the meantime, if you have an interest or any questions about joining the PEC, please feel free to reach out to myself or any of the current members of the PEC. We will be taking a break from our regular meetings in July, but will resume in the third week of August.
Parent ParticipationIn March, the PEC voted to suspend the Parent Participation program and forgive all remaining unserved participation hours. Parent Participation cheques were not cashed on June 15, regardless of how many hours you had completed when the school closure took effect. Moving forward, we will assume the mindset that the school will reopen as scheduled in September and that the Parent Participation program will resume as normal. As such, all families will be receiving their task group assignments for the 2020/2021 school year from our Parent Participation Coordinator shortly. If any adjustments need to be made to your particular task come fall due to whatever the circumstances may be then, those will be addressed and considered at that time.
Indeed, many Thank You’s are in order because while I have only mentioned a few highlights above, we know it has taken all of our collective effort to achieve all the successes we did this year, and to weather the challenge that has been the last three months.
We thank Father Paul and Mr. Van der Pauw, for their great leadership of our parish and school, respectively. The strength of our community starts with the collaborative relationship between our parish and school leaders, and that filters down to all our parish and school groups that truly support each other in our every endeavour. From the Knights of Columbus bringing us on board their Casino Night to coincide with our Fall Social, to our school families’ generous response to an impromptu food drive to replenish the cupboards of St. Vincent de Paul at the height of the pandemic – and everything in between – we are blessed to be in such a caring community.
We thank our teachers and staff for all their hard work, dedication and love for our children. You were amazing the whole year through, but also thank you for not backing down from the challenge of imparting knowledge and skills to your students even in ways you may have not done before – and doing it with such kindness and patience.
We thank you, parents, for your presence and participation all year – in all our fundraising and school events, in your day-to-day volunteer tasks around the school, with our very much unplanned ‘Spring Video Tribute Series’, and most of all, for your huge role in your children completing Term 3 entirely from home! Thank you for your invaluable support and your friendship.
In a special way we thank our Class Representatives who have helped us so much, especially these last few months, when effective and timely communication has been so important. Even without the requirement to complete any more participation hours, they readily continued to help our teachers with sending out class-related instructions, as well as information from the Principal and the PEC. I would also like to extend this gratitude to the members of the PEC who have continued to take part in planning, critical decision-making and continued community building as the school responded to the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. What a blessing it is to get to do this work alongside all of you!
Finally, and most importantly, a salute to our children, who have shown so much courage and resilience this year. It must not have been easy at times; the situation after spring break asked a lot of you without allowing you much preparation, and yet you did it! Thank you for giving us your best everyday.
As our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, often reminds us, this crisis is not over yet. We truly don’t know what the future holds but I take comfort in knowing we will get through it as a strong, supportive and loving community. I wish you and your families a summer like no other – one that is safe, healthy and full of memories we won’t soon forget. Take care and see you all again soon!
Sincerely, on behalf of your PEC,
Cristina Ricafort | PEC Chair
St. Bernadette Elementary School
13130 65B Ave, Surrey, BC V3W 9M1