It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here.
Weledeh Catholic School and St. Patrick High School administration showed off their new, shared soccer field this week after many years of fundraising. Decked out in Weledeh Wolves hear, Weledeh principal Jenny Reid and assistant principal Seana Stewart scrimmaged with St. Pat’s principal Todd Stewart and assistant principals Don Reid and Alicia Larade.
“It is a culmination of about 15 years of work and it was passed on from principal to principal to principal and I am kind of here getting the glory,” said Jenny Reid.
The schools were built in late 1990s and early 2000s and soon the process started, driven by students, to develop the playground on the property. Jenny, at the time, was teaching leadership skills at Weledeh to a group of 10 students.
Over the next 15 years, students at both schools sold pizza and baked goods, washed cars and applied for grants. At times, Yellowknife Catholic Schools and parent advisory councils pitched in money to get the field. Bit by bit, money was raised until this summer when a 105-by-90-foot stretch of astroturf was finally installed by B.C. company Synthetic Turf International.
The field will be one of the only school-owned fields in Yellowknife as many other students use city-owned fields. Primarily, outdoor St. Pat’s soccer teams will use it for practice and Weledeh students will use it for physical education and during recess.
The intention had originally been to have a sod field at the location, but about a year ago, Stewart says the schools opted for astroturf, which is much cheaper.
The field will require little upkeep other than snow clearance, and has its own drainage system built into the design. The turf itself is very soft to walk on, so students will no longer have to suffer bumps and scrapes when using the space for recreation.
The field will also allow for some baseball, as a backstop was being put in on Wednesday, and students will also use it to play frisbee-golf.
Former Weledeh principal Simone Gessler, now an administrator with the school board, also spent much of the past decade involved in this project.
“I think it is amazing and it is a fantastic recreational tool for the kids at recess time,” Gessler said. “It has made the playground more usable and so much better since it had been an open gravel space and wasn’t user friendly for students.”
The schools are hoping to have a formal grand opening of the field in October.