A gala affair with local firefighters aims to build an amphitheatre in Oak Bay.
Oak Bay Fire Department reinstated its gala to raise funds to replace play equipment destroyed by a falling branch at Monterey middle school.
In fall 2013 a tree branch destroyed playground equipment, sparking a Parent Advisory Committee survey of students and staff.
The survey showed no appetite for an elementary school playground as had existed. Teachers want to take learning outdoors, while students seek a place to socialize.
PAC came up with an amphitheatre.
“It’s our first step in an outdoor classroom project that will likely take several years,” said PAC chair Doug Tolson, calling it a “foundational piece”.
“It’s something that I feel fits with the vision of what Monterey wants to do.”
Monterey holds an overarching goal of connecting kids with outdoors. It’s a designated Wild School through a partnership with WildBC that allows for environmental and outdoor programming. For example, the school currently offers a pilot ocean sciences course.
“This is one more thing that will complement that,” said Monterey principal Ken Andrews. “Whether it’s just a regular class, but you’re outside, it could also be an outdoor concert.”
With an idea, and some preliminary plans, it was time to start fundraising.
“It was serendipity that we got involved with the firefighters foundation,” said Tolson. “Sometimes you get ideas as a PAC which you’re pushing a stone uphill. Immediately the teachers and students and parents thought this was great and got behind it.”
Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation’s inaugural gala was in June 2013. They raised $30,000 for Oak Bay High to purchase a new bus. This year they hope to raise as much for the outdoor project at Monterey school.
“We’re just trying to show that we’re there for the community and we’re open to partnerships,” said Greg Swan, president of Oak Bay Fire Charitable.
“You can have your greatest impact with kids, the firetruck goes by and they all go crazy. Anytime we can help them directly or indirectly is good.”
The PAC holds an ambitious goal of building next school year. They hope to raise roughly $50,000 for the project.
“Whatever we come out with, that will be our project. How much money we have will dictate the scope and features of the structure,” Tolson said. “We’re hoping it’s not seen as only a Monterey project, but as an Oak Bay project. The more the community gets behind it, beyond the Monterey parents, the more we’ll create something that will be of use to the community.”
Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation’s gala dinner to support Monterey Middle School is Friday, May 29 at Victoria Golf Club, 1110 Beach Dr.
“Monterey school’s really appreciative of the firefighters charitable foundation for supporting this vision of Monterey’s student staff and community,” said Andrews, adding the PAC is planning other fundraisers including a school spell-a-thon and building gift baskets for the auction. “The kids will be involved in those ways.”
The function will feature a formal sit-down buffet dinner with live music, keynote speakers, the Oak Bay Fire Department honour guard and a silent auction. Purchase tickets online at oakbayfirefighters.com.