Peterborough elementary school students create art and music to raise money for playground

Peterborough's Kaawaate East City Public School (KECPS) is hoping to raise $200,000 to build an accessible playground at the elementary school. On May 1, 2024, the school will be hosting an arts and music night for students, teachers, and parents showcasing the talents of students, making student art available for purchase through a silent auction, and accepting donations towards the playground fund. (Photo courtesy of KECPS)
Peterborough’s Kaawaate East City Public School (KECPS) is hoping to raise $200,000 to build an accessible playground at the elementary school. On May 1, 2024, the school will be hosting an arts and music night for students, teachers, and parents showcasing the talents of students, making student art available for purchase through a silent auction, and accepting donations towards the playground fund. (Photo courtesy of KECPS)

Peterborough’s Kaawaate East City Public School (KECPS) is bringing together its school community for an evening of art and music.

The hope is the event on Wednesday (May 1) will have an impact that resonates well into the future. The public school in the East City community is hosting the arts night to raise money for a new, fully accessible playground at KECPS.

While the special event is only open to the school’s students, teachers, and parents, all community members can support KECPS in its quest to create a playground Peterborough residents can enjoy in years to come.

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“The idea for an arts night was student and staff generated as we were thinking about ways to involve our students in supporting the playground fund,” said Melissa Casselman, KECPS vice-principal, who spearheaded the event. “When our intermediate design club noted that they wanted to showcase their artwork, we knew we had many other students who would also love the opportunity to highlight the importance of the arts — visual art and music as well.”

“We invited (students in grades 1 through 6) to create art that also supports the Ontario art curriculum, so it seemed a perfect next step to create art in class that we could show as a gallery walk,” Casselman explained. “The idea snowballed from there, and staff then supported students with musical talents to also provide entertainment at this special event. It truly was a collaborative idea. Our students are very excited to showcase their pieces.”

Parents and caregivers of KECPS students are invited to gather Wednesday between 6 and 7:30 p.m. to view the school-wide art gallery and hear the primary choir, intermediate band, and ukulele club members perform. Student art will be available for purchase through a silent auction and KECPS is requesting all visitors provide a voluntary donation, with all money going towards the playground fund.

East City Public School (KECPS) on May 1, 2024. Funds raised will go towards the $200,000 cost of building an accessible playground at the elementary school, as playgrounds are not funded by the provincial government. (Photos courtesy of KECPS)
East City Public School (KECPS) on May 1, 2024. Funds raised will go towards the $200,000 cost of building an accessible playground at the elementary school, as playgrounds are not funded by the provincial government. (Photos courtesy of KECPS)

When her daughter began attending junior kindergarten at the recently built school, parent Tara Joyce was surprised to learn the provincial government doesn’t provide funding for a school playground. She and other parents joined together to embark on a $200,000 fundraising campaign for the playground at the Hunter Street East school.

“We don’t have specific financial goals for the arts night itself, but we are hoping to raise $200,000 by September of 2025 to fund the playground being built,” Joyce told kawarthaNOW. “We have currently raised approximately $26,000.”

Through the arts and music night, “it is our hope to build engagement within the school community towards raising the funds needed to build the playground,” Joyce said.

“For students, we want them to feel empowered that they can contribute and advocate for their needs and effectively raise money towards a goal they care deeply about. For parents, we want the night to be informative and help them understand why we don’t currently have a playground, what needs to be done to build one, and how they can personally get involved to support the initiative.”

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The broader East City community can support the fundraising initiative by donating personally to the cause, and/or by engaging with their community of family, friends, colleagues, service groups, and local businesses to contribute, Joyce noted.

“Any little bit helps. The more people we can have supporting our fundraising efforts and sharing our message and our need within the community, the stronger and more effective it will be. And our kids and our community will get to play on their playground sooner.”

When it opened in 2021, KECPS was designed with a capacity for 675 students. The projected student population in September 2024 is 847 students.

“Having a playground for the students seems critical to the healthy functioning of any elementary school,” Joyce earlier told kawarthaNOW. “With our student body and new building already overcrowded in its third year of existence, creating more interactive spaces outdoors for our students is critically needed, and will have a long-term positive impact on their learning and growth.”


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