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Monterey Middle students go gaga for gaga ball

School enters phase three of playground revitalization program

Only a month old, Monterey Middle’s gaga ball court has had plenty of use from students. Like an octagonal version of dodge ball, gaga ball is a fast-paced and close-contained sport that has caught on quickly with the school.

Thanks to funds raised by the Parent Advisory Council (incited in part by principal Ken Andrews’ one-night sleep on the school roof dressed in wooly mammoth attire), phase two of Monterey’s playground revitalization is complete with a log seating area and the well-loved gaga ball pit.

“Gaga ball was one of my favourite outdoor games as a kid,” Andrews said. “It’s wonderful to see the next generation of kids enthusiastically playing gaga ball at Monterey, and I’ve been having great fun playing with them.”

The Monterey Middle PAC worked on playground revitalization for four years. Phase one was completed last fall with the installation of a swing set and rock seating area. Now reaching the end of phase two, Andrews and the PAC are ready to continue. Phase three will include a circular log arrangement intended to facilitate outdoor class time and student socialization, and a spinning net-climber will be installed in the following phase. Monterey hosted a spelling bee June 15 to fundraise for the projects, where students received pledges and donations depending on the number of words correctly spelled.

Andrews says the playground revitalization has encouraged more outdoor play at recess and allowed teachers to engage students in outdoor learning activities. “We live in a beautiful part of the world, and I think it’s great to get Monterey students outdoors on a regular basis, whether exploring our local seashore, walking through the neighbourhood, or simply holding a lesson outside on our school grounds under the Garry oak trees,” he said.

Oak Bay Fire’s Sausage Fest on June 24 presents the next fun-for-all fundraising day. Oak Bay Fire contributed to Monterey’s first playground revitalization phase by raising $10 thousand from a gala dinner and auction, and will donate a portion of their proceeds to continuing the school’s revitalization at Sausage Fest this year.

The event will be held at Willows Beach from noon to 9 p.m. and will feature live music, a barbecue, dunk tank, kids’ zone, beer and cider garden and, naturally, sausages.

“We have an army of parents and student volunteers who will be helping with different activities,” Andrews said. “It’ll be a great day for our community, and further support our playground revitalization plans.”